Throughout my blog I have highlighted the increasing influence that social media and our online profiles have on our everyday lives, confirmed in an article written by Lisa Harris on ‘Using social media in your job search’ which states that roughly four hours a day or ‘half a working day’ is spent on social media. Social media is becoming an integral part of our culture and our personal personas, so it is almost natural that it would also become an integral part of our professional personas also.
In previous posts, I have made comments on the ways in which our online profiles shape our identities, and how different platforms serve different purposes and therefore display our different traits as an individual. For example, a CV may be shared on LinkedIn but not on Instagram, and similarly a joke shared on Twitter may not be entirely appropriate for platforms like LinkedIn or Reed; Different approaches on different platforms is logical in that it is not always possible to remain completely professional and work-focused at all times, and there have been several recent incidents in which the online profile or ‘persona’ you create will affect all aspects of both an individuals social and professional life, regardless of the platform or media site (yes, a tweet can get you fired.)
This, however, doesn’t mean our professional profiles have to be as boring as a CV typed in Times New Roman and printed out in font-size 12. There are just 3 very simple and easy steps to take to ensure that you can create a completely authentic, profile that can keep you looking professional, but keep you looking like you!
1. Avoid too much controversy! Beware of the All-seeing Eye…
An article on ‘How One Stupid Tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s Life’ builds on this ‘cross-over’ further. The article is essentially an update on the incident that took place during December of 2013, in Justine Sacco, ‘the senior director of corporate communications at IAC’ took to twitter to make particularly controversial jokes.
Amongst the frankly hard to read borderline racist jokes were:
“Chilly — cucumber sandwiches — bad teeth. Back in London!”
“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
A fellow employee actually commented ‘I’m an IAC employee and I don’t want @JustineSacco doing any communications on our behalf ever again. Ever,’ and this is exactly what you want to avoid and it’s probably quite obvious that she got publically humiliated and attacked, as well as fired immediately. It is easy to forget that what you may think is your small online bubble of under 200 is still visible to all! Other comments on the post itself actually show people’s clear identification with this issue. One comment actually states: ‘I deleted my Facebook account last year for the simple reason that I didn’t trust myself not to be glib. I am flippant by nature…’ This sense of an ‘overseeing’ eye is one that has come to be widely acknowledged as something to be aware of; our every move is essentially under a microscope and more and more people are making a conscious effort to be more careful about the picture they paint of themselves online.
Expressing or voicing your opinions and views is completely fine, but make sure that you stay appropriate; if you wouldn’t be comfortable with your boss or mother seeing it, it’s probably best you don’t post it! Learn from Justine’s frankly embarrassing mistake and avoid any topics that can be offensive. (You don’t want to be the little birdy alone and isolated from everyone else)
2. Show Personality: BE YOU
It is ok to make jokes (appropriate ones remember,) and be yourself on your social media profiles. Employer’s want to see that you are REAL, and not just words on a page. Michael Weiss in a BBC Video on How to Promote Yourself Online encourages individuals to ‘tell a story’ through their social media platforms and essentially sell yourself to prospective employers. He also puts an emphasis on showing passion. It is one thing to show an employer why you may be able to complete a task or fulfil a job role, but it is another to show them why you want to; why you are passionate about the field and what differentiates you from the next Tom, Dick or Harry.
Michael suggests a small and personal paragraph about yourself on your LinkedIn profile; Your online profiles are your opportunity to put your best foot forward and express yourself. A survey carried out by Jobvite states that ‘93% of recruiters will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision,’ so you know they’re watching, and you don’t want to be the one that didn’t make the most of an opportunity.
3. Be Proative & Be Creative: Show and Tell
Being Proactive, frequently updating your information and achievements, and dedicating yourself to looking interested are all great things to do; like your employers Facebook page, and make sure to follow their Twitter and LinkedIn pages. An article on Building your online professional profile by the Ohio State University encourages individuals to ask questions, join networking groups, and retweet things that are related and of interest to you as great ways to stay connected.
It is also useful to show specific examples of projects and accomplishments you have completed or achieved, as well as using multimedia to better showcase yourself. The ‘Work Experience’ section of your CV can be dull, and often repetitive for a lot of employers to see, so coming up with a fresh new way to display this is a step in the right direction. 15% of employers actually used YouTube to recruit according to Jobvite, so include links to projects and videos you are involved in or have created, use images, and make sure the all seeing eye (your employer) remembers YOU!
Social Recruiting Survey by Jobvite (2014) https://www.jobvite.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Jobvite_SocialRecruiting_Survey2014.pdf
NY Times Article on Justine Sacco incident: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=2
Lisa Harris Article on ‘Using social media in your job search:’ http://moocs.southampton.ac.uk/websci/2014/03/13/ill-tweet-job-spec-snap-cv/
BBC Video: How to Promote Yourself Online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25217962
Ohio State University – ‘Building Your Professional Online Presence’ https://asccareerservices.osu.edu/sites/asccareerservices.osu.edu/files/Building%20a%20Professional%20Online%20Presence.pdf