These days, because employers will search for information about you online, you cannot avoid the impact social media will have on your career.
That can be frustrating for those of us who tend to avoid social media altogether. If you do not use Facebook often, or comment on blog posts regularly, you may not have as much of an online presence. Either way, you need to know what is out there. Even more so, these days you can use the internet and social media to your advantage.
The words of caution:
First, search yourself. Try different variations of your name especially if you have a nick-name, just in case. You have to make sure you know what is out there and be careful what you post. Having a clean online presence is critical, especially if you are conducting a job search. What you post on Tumblr or Instagram can mean the difference between securing an interview and getting passed over. A 2012 CareerBuilder survey found that 37% of employers use social networks to learn about their candidates, and that number I am sure is growing. Check your security settings but the best rule of thumb is do not post anything you are unsure about. Parents of recent college grads should take a moment to talk with their son or daughter about what is on their Facebook profile and other sites.
Second, understand your company’s policy regarding social media. Some organizations have them and some do not. Before you cross over the line, know if there is one and what it says just in case. More and more companies are adding rules on social media.
Third, pay attention to the people you follow on Twitter and what you like on Facebook. Remember what you do online becomes part of your reputation as a person overall, and can impact your reputation as a professional. Be mindful of how the people you follow or like impacts your image.
While you do have to be careful about using social media, it can help you manage your career! Facebook can be your friend. It can be a way to stay in touch with business connections (who you have placed into a separate list for business connections only), share about a new app you have discovered that helps boost efficiency at work, learn about the latest trend in your industry or ask for advice.
I use LinkedIn often to post a question to ask for a recommendation or referral for a professional service. Job seekers are more often creating social resumes to apply for jobs as a way to stand out.
Think of social media as a two way street. It has the potential to hurt you but also if used correctly, can help you.
About the author:
Hallie Crawford is a certified coach and founder of Create Your Career Path. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report.