I’m amazed when I hear stories about how people potentially affect their careers via online indiscretions. I’m also impressed with how many people positively impact their job searches thanks to their online presence.
In past posts, I’ve urged readers to fully engage in social media, but remain vigilant about the need to project an appropriate personal online brand. I asked University of Alabama senior Josh Morris to write the following post for individuals like him who are getting serious about landing jobs when they graduate in May 2010. His recommendations apply to anyone who has online fans and friends.
I’d Hire Me: Would You Hire You?
A long time ago, in a reality far, far away, we were all in control of what we knew as our online personal profiles. Along came capitalism, Zuckerberg seceded from his following and the definition of privacy was rewritten in subscripts. Today, we’re frequently reassured that privacy still remains in our hands and abides by our preferences, but just as often we’re reminded there is no such thing as absolute control in the world of communications.
Constantly changing privacy settings (of all SM sites, no Facebook bias) are impossible to keep up with, placing the endangered term “privacy control” on the verge of extinction. But in the fight to stay in touch with those you want, yet draw boundaries for those who may not be as close, there are still strategies to prevent feeling completely violated.
Don’t think of changing SM habits as damage control; rather consider flipping your profiles as the greatest opportunity a generation of young professionals has ever been presented with. It’s time for us to take advantage of what some may consider a violation of our privacy, and with an optimistic approach, these five easy ideas to keep in mind when using SM platforms will ensure your best foot is always forward.
1. Don’t stop what you’re doing. Our personality is our best form of personal PR. You have created your SM profiles to best reflect who you are and what you care about – and that’s what you should be doing! No employer wants to hire an office of drones and if your SM profiles are all-of-the-sudden empty of content and void of personality, either you’ve got something to hide or you’re the epitome of a wallflower. So continue to post pictures of your favorite activities (hanging out with friends, attending concerts and celebrating holidays with family) and talk among friends about last night’s game (Tebow cried a little too hard, right?), just do so with the understanding that you’re now being held accountable for your actions and they may be responsible for the start of your career.
2. Start thinking differently. You’re not going to change who you are when you enter the workforce; you’re going to act more professionally and better respect the responsibility of your actions and words. SM sites are a great foundation for practice and presentation of your ability to transition into the workforce from school. Creating a professional presentation of yourself online will help train your brain to think more constructively towards your goals and better prepare you for future digital interaction with professionals.
3. Be proactive. The importance of networking cannot be overlooked, but now we’re talking about creating professional relationships and not whose couch you can stay on if you go through with those plans for a road trip (we’re starting to think differently already). This doesn’t mean your traditional uses of SM are unacceptable (so if you need a couch for a night, don’t hesitate to ask a friend), but start implementing new strategies to raise awareness of your online presence. Engaging in conversation by participating in others’ SM presences is a great way to draw attention to yourself and encourage others to contribute to your online presence. Commenting on others’ blog posts or status updates or “retweeting” tweets displays your interest in engaging and may prompt others to keep you involved in future conversation. Twitter is probably the SM platform where professional communities and individuals are most accessible.
4. Utilize SM’s full potential. There are many ways to proactively use SM and although starting out might seem slow and unproductive at times, stick with it and you never know what might happen. For example, I started by searching for PR firm CEO’s and presidents via Twitter’s “Find People” search option, the results of which lead me to an active PR and journalism chat (#journchat). Afterwards, I followed a link tweeted by a #journchat participant, read and commented on the post, and received an e-mail the following day asking me to write a guest post – so I’m the best proof I have to offer. As accessible and interactive as SM is and should be, the potential is immeasurable and the timing and significance of its possibilities may surprise you.
5. Never stop learning. And just when we think we’ve got it figured out, Google throws a left hook and stops us dead in our tracks with the real-time search feature. But doesn’t real-time search allow you to update your presence in real-time? Again, we’re presented with another opportunity for self-promotion. Technology, like news, never sleeps, and we’re constantly playing catch up. The more often you explore and the more risks you take, the more you will learn about SM and the better you will be at taking advantage of it.
If you follow these few simple steps to promoting your brand appropriately, you may want to consider disabling most privacy settings and letting your presence roam freely. Accessibility and two-way communication are what SM is founded on, and exploiting that will help you manage your brand to its full potential. So, the next time you sign on to whatever SM sites you use, ask yourself this: would you hire you?
A public relations major, Josh Morris studied in Beijing last year and has completed his minor in Chinese language. Among Josh’s many campus activities include being Director of Media Relations of the UA Chinese Culture Club, Director of Web-based Communication for UA PRSSA, and Design/Editorial Team member and President of Platform Online Magazine. His blog is Prisoner of Interest.