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Insane Sorority Letter Highlights Harsh Reality of Social Media

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on April 30, 2013 12:59 PM

It’s not easy living in the age of social media. Everything we do is documented. Everything we say is easily reproduced and published for mass consumption.

Everyone is a spy, and our peers are prone to ratting us out for our indiscretions.

It’s even worse for college students and law students. Can you imagine being the idiot that you were in your younger years now?

If you've been online in the last two weeks, you're probably read the Maryland Sorority Girl Email. (Warning: Strong language. Really strong language.) And if you're really lucky, you've watched Boardwalk Empire actor Michael Shannon's dramatic interpretation on Funny or Die.

(Perhaps you don't want to sift through this peeved now-former-sorority-girl's expletive-laden rant against the "boring" and "awkward" members of her chapter. That's okay; we'll summarize. The writer explained to her sorority that she was unhappy with the lack of social behavior at a social event. She expressed her dissatisfaction by dropping the F-bomb 41 times. There were other offensive terms, as well.)

The problem for this student, assuming that she doesn't parlay her way with words into a niche writing gig, is that those words will follow her online forever. And it's not just the insane letter that could come up in job interviews; The Frisky even published selections from her Twitter feed before she deleted the account.

While most job seekers will never author a viral email or tweet, they risk similar consequences by maintaining a public social media presence. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter is the new résumé. Jocelyn Lai, a talent acquisition manager for Austin advertising firm GSD&M told the Journal that she regularly uses Twitter to get a sense of a candidate. "I watch people interact, learn what their positions are, who their best friends on Twitter are, whether they have a sense of humor. From that you can get a pretty good picture."

That picture includes both the good and the bad.

For lawyers, who are expected to understand the importance of discretion, the social media résumé could backfire. The job market for lawyers is terrible, and a social media footprint that demonstrates poor judgment could be enough to convince an employer that an otherwise-qualified candidate isn't the right person for the job.

Social media can help you build your brand; just take care to ensure that it's a brand prospective employers and clients will embrace.

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