Monday, June 8, 2015

Another Warning About Social Media Exposure


I’ve written about the dangers of social media with regard to job search efforts. Social media can enhance your image and reach people you otherwise could not. But it requires that you manage your social media presence no different than high profile individuals. The old adage of all PR (good or bad) is good PR is fine, if you wish to be known or notorious in the public / private world – but not if you want to be taken seriously in the business and corporate sector. 
 
I recall in the past someone argued with me about this topic as though I was suggesting people restrict or restrain their own individuality and stated quite vehemently, “I can say what I want about my own personal and private views, it’s my right”. They still didn’t seem to get it after I suggested that the moment they posted their comments publicly, it was no longer very personal nor was it at all private, “duh”. They still missed the point. 
 
For example: just last week I represented a very sharp young man to a company on whose behalf I am conducting a search. They were initially quite interested in my candidate and said they’d like for me to arrange a meeting and interview. However, about an hour later I received an email which shared a Twitter account screen shot with the same name as my candidate and asked me to verify if it was his. Indeed it was and there was nothing outwardly offensive; he was simply sharing his personal opinions about various topics. Nonetheless, they chose not to proceed further. The young man was surprised and said it had never happened before, but this is the era in which we live. It’s only going to get worse.
 
In the past on 5th August 2013 and again on March 30th of this year, I wrote about this topic of social media over-exposure and how it has become a routine step when pre-screening and considering potential job applicants. In other words, people are being reference checked online as a determining factor before they have a chance to demonstrate their abilities to do the job for which they are seeking to interview. And it is not just limited to applicants -- current employees are also being watched. 
 
The biggest and most clueless offenders are young people embarking on their careers at a time when good jobs are not growing on trees and when they need to most impress companies about why they should be chosen over others. 
 
So I urge you to gain the attention of those whom you may know who crave notoriety without considering the repercussions. Even if they just want to share their personal lives online, we all need to be aware of this not-so-new, but certainly increasing frequency of being pre-judged by their internet presence. Everyone should: 

A)     Think ahead before posting online anything, comments, photos, links…
Or
B)      Activate filters for the more personal displays of their personalities
Or
C)      Limit or reduce their online social activities 

Common sense says to apply all three suggestions because clearly you never know who is watching.
 
Is it fair that people use your own words or images to profile and make assumptions about you? Probably not but I don’t think it is a fairness issue, after all, it is information posted by you, voluntarily. If you put yourself out there for all to see, you’ll get your 15 minutes of fame all right, but perhaps it might not be the kind of attention you were expecting.
 
Many people simply don’t heed good advice until they are directly affected in a negative way. If your career aspirations mean anything to you, think before you post online; apply filters and restrict the audience who can see you.

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