The Social Media Resignation: Bright Idea or Digital Downfall?
A current and popular social media fad is the Internet resignation. Employees are looking for more and more public ways to resign or say, “I quit” in an entertaining fashion. Others simply want to leave a scathing review of a former employer or supervisor. Undoubtedly, social media has been used as a tool to deliver some of these messages.
- One of the most popular examples of quitting via internet & social media is Marina Shifrin’s YouTube “I Quit Video” that has nearly 17.5 million views, not to mention countless examples of media coverage and debates. Shifrin was even offered a job to work on the Queen Latifah Show, which she turned down to pursue a career in television writing;
- One unique way to capitalize on the resignation via social media phenomena is the Quit Your Job App, which provides a series of scenarios and potential recipients for your mobile resignation. This tool then encourages the user to “feel free to get social and share your new found freedom via Facebook and Twitter” by providing direct links to post the notice online;
- The popular Resignation Letter cake went viral on Twitter in April 2013 shortly after being delivered by airport employee Chris Holmes and then posted by his brother-in-law;
- There is also the infamous YouTube video of a gentleman resigning to the sound of Dawn from Also Sprach Zarathustra op. 30 by Richard Strauss followed by a dance out the door as Freddy Mercury & Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody plays in the background. This video has over 300,000 views and has been a twitter favorite too;
- Another popular Facebook posting that shows a woman resigning from her job by emailing her colleagues a series of white board messages, contains an even more startling response from her supervisor. While more extensive research shows that this particular incident was a hoax it is still a virtual advertisement to encourage people to try other types of mobile resignations.
As an advocate for social media, I have always reminded students that the power of social networking is can be alluring. However, equal consideration should always be given to the permanent nature of most content. I echo the same sentiment today that I espoused in 2009 when I participated in a Belmont University panel about social media called From Facebook to Twitter: Rules, Rights and Realities of Social Networks. At the time, our moderator, Dr. Sybril Bennett led a visionary discussion about social media’s value, and the associated responsibility needed by student users. The panelists each shared perspectives on how to effectively and responsibly engage social media.
One of the best resources on any college campus is the Office of Career Services or Career Development. These offices exist to help students secure internships, prepare for employment, or transition to graduate school while mapping out trajectory for careers and life after earning a degree. Many universities even offer career planning or placement services to their alumni. Over the last few years, an important shift in the teaching tools offered by many career placement offices includes very specific guidelines and practices about how to use social media effectively. A few of the best and most powerful examples include:
- Virginia Tech Career Services offers a detailed resource for students with substantive explanation of social media value and responsibility. Va. Tech also offers some strong data points to encourage good social media behavior among students;
- University of Minnesota Duluth’s Career and Internship Services website delivers awesome recommendations, guidelines, and resources on how to effectively use social media;
- At Indiana University Southeast, our campus Career Development Center frequents Twitter to increase student interactions and offers a robust training webinar that teaches students and graduates how to use LinkedIn as a tool for professional development and networking;
- University of Texas at Austin Law School has a series of guidelines and social media tips specific to law students. Most notable are tools designed for law students to develop relationships with alumni in various forums and resources to clean up personal pages; and
- The Office of Career Services at Columbia University Teachers College has an information packed social media page that shares tools for employment seeking using various social networks as well as offering ten informative user guidelines which help students navigate the social media universe.
Earning a college degree is very important to career success and job continuity. For example, a Pew Research Center analysis reminds us that as of February 2014, young adults with just a high-school diploma earned 62 percent of the typical salary of college graduates. A May 2013 New York Times report notes that college graduates’ unemployment rate was 3.9% compared to 7.5% for the rest of the population. These favorable numbers clearly support the value of earning a college degree. However, failing to utilize the type of resources and best practices described above can lead to four viral social media minutes that could overshadow four valuable years spent earning a degree.
Saying goodbye to a job that leaves individuals feeling underappreciated, mishandled, or treated unfairly can bring a rush of power. While it may seem refreshing at the time, choosing to leave a job through very public and social media inclusive ways can produce potential real world consequences such as inability to find new employment, irreparable reputational damage, or even lawsuits. Equally important to consider is how failing to adequately represent oneself in the social media world can tilt the scales against students and graduates on the job market, in a current position, or on the way the way out of the door.