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Karen Martin and Beverley Ireland-Symonds promote the value of having effective communication skills for individuals, teams and organisations.
Friday, 12 November 2010

Could demonstrating harm your future job prospects?

The papers this week, have been full of the 50,000 strong demonstration In London, against the increase in student fees for Higher Education students. Because of a small minority, it is clear that some of the messages that they wanted to communicate have been lost behind the headlines of smashed windows, unprepared police and a fire extinguisher being dangerously thrown from the roof of a building.

I have read newspaper articles and listened to the news and watched Newsnight and  heard from students who condemned the violence, those that said a few broken windows are nothing, those that say violence is the only way that their voice can be heard and those that just wanted to attend and silently express their anger about the burden of debt they may face in the future.  As I listened to the reports and I read articles, there was one issue that kept coming up for me which hadn't been mentioned. I kept wondering whether the people involved were fully aware of the messages they were communicating and how they could impact on their future job prospects.

In January of this year it was reported that “7 out of 10 employers research candidates online”, but as we go around our daily lives, are these figures that the majority of people even thing of? The photos, the messages that we post randomly, could they be held against us at a later date. It's easy to argue that most of us are aware of the importance of what information we share with other people and being careful to set the right  privacy settings.  However, the key issue is not the control of our own settings but other peoples. It’s possible to be completely unaware of photos that other people post on their walls, with comments, names, dates and times. 

I’m not arguing that people shouldn’t demonstrate or they shouldn’t be seen on a demonstration. The right to demonstrate and freedom of speech are rights that as a democracy we should welcome and celebrate.  All I wonder is that when the students of today demonstrate, lawfully and peacefully and a tiny minority  throw missiles, or break windows or scream abuse – are they thinking about the possible impact on their job prospects of the future?