Google your own name. What do you see?
Now that’s how easy it is for people to get information about anyone these days, what you did like a joke today, might become the basis of which you are evaluated tomorrow, worst of it, the internet never sleeps, it never forgets.
For most people, being active on social media is both great fun and an essential way of staying connected.
Vacation photos, funny memes, breaking news, DMs from friends, random musings you just have to share — social media feeds are not only chock-full of curated info, they’re also today’s primary tool for communication.
But, is it possible that something on social media could set back your job search, or dent your digital footprint which could affect your chances of securing your dream job or getting summoned by your current employer?
Quick answer; yes.
Social media is more than just a chitchat tool, it is now part of many organization’s hiring grid and your employer might be using it to evaluate your personality in one way or the other; which can be good or bad for you – depending on how you use social media.
Here’s the lowdown on how social media usage can hinder — or help — your career.
Nowhere to hide
“You’re probably more visible than you know,” cautions Karen Oakey, director of human resources for Fracture.
When Oakey speaks to students or young professionals, she suggests they start by Googling their own names.
“That usually prompts a lot of gasps, sighs and OMGs,” says Oakey. And since the trend in hiring today is to think of a candidate as a “whole person,” not simply someone who’s on the clock to perform a specific function, you need to be mindful of what you put out there.
One way to build consciousness on social media is to think of it like online dating, How you present yourself online should match up with who you are in person.
When it comes to social media, there’s also a lot of gray area around whether you’re just you, or whether you’re a representative of the company that employs you.
Surprisingly, people get so real on social media one way or the other, they show their real self and try to be who they want to be (consciously or unconsciously).
A story is told of Amy (not a real name) who got into trouble earlier this year when she criticized a decision made by her employer from her personal Twitter account.
Within a half hour of her post, her boss emailed to set up a meeting with HR. But the meeting turned out to be about not just the public criticism, but also about content in other, older tweets that her employers had found and had issue with.
It all blew up into something much bigger than it originally was.
This could have ended in many bad ways, Amy could lose her job instantly or she could be disciplined, either way, it’s not good for her career.
So How Do You Use Social Media To Your Advantage As A Professional?
You can be smart when it comes to social media. You can be yourself and be professional about it knowing that you represent your organization even in your personal life.
Simple Tips To Get You Started And Sorted.
- Think before you post
Since any comments you make on a public website could quite possibly follow you forever in cyberspace, make sure you’re proud of everything you post. If you can live with it being part of your public life, then it’s probably OK.
- Beware of blind spots
The internet is often a tinderbox waiting to explode — and what might be a benign observation or comment to you can be controversial or offensive to someone else. If it’s at all possible that your post might be misinterpreted — or if you’re not thoroughly familiar with the topic — better to refrain than falter.
- Make social media work for you
Looking to land a job as a digital marketer? Then create posts that shows that you’re knowledgeable in the subject matter so that your employer can see value in you even before inviting you for a physical interview.
Trying to land a job at a fashion company? Then create a fashion-focused public profile that potential employers can peruse while considering your application.
Hoping to work in the Risk Assessment Department? Comment regularly on pertinent threads and feeds to show you’re already engaged with the sector’s trending topics.
By expanding your digital footprint in this constructive, layered manner, you’ll give potential employers a broader picture of who you are and what you can add to a team.
Social media is a great tool to connect with professionals and grow your network, it can serve as an accelerator when you’re looking at entering a new organization or looking at building authority in your niche.
However, like every tool, if not well used, social media can be the architect of your career stunt or downfall. Your personal life should reflect the corporate mirror of the organization where you work or are looking at working or at least show some modesty, mutual respect for others and uphold societal values in your communications.
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