Social media has reshaped every aspect of our lives, including our professional identities and job searches. How you interact online today could strongly influence your career tomorrow.
Social media has reshaped our lives and transformed how we connect with others. It also has important implications for our careers and job searches. Knowing how social media affects your next job is critical to a successful search. You want to make the most of any professional development or career opportunities while crafting an online presence that reflects the best of you, as an employee and a person. No one expects you to be buttoned-up 24-7, but there should not be a disconnection between your personal and professional interactions online. Both should demonstrate why someone would want you as an employee or a friend.
LinkedIn is unique in the social media world because it is focused on our professional life and frequently leads to legitimate job offers and exciting opportunities. Your LinkedIn profile serves as your online resume and should look very similar to the resumes you submit to prospective employers and recruiters. Unlike the materials you prepare as part of a job application, however, this online resume, in addition to your employment history and skills, encompasses your updates, groups and associations, interactions with your connections, recommenders, and any content you share. If you are an active and vibrant presence on the site, this can provide companies and headhunters with a comprehensive understanding of who you are and what you have to offer. Keep in mind, however, that LinkedIn has an area for personal information that you typically do not disclose to prospective employers during the application process. This includes marital status and your birthday, including the year. Approach LinkedIn as you would any professional endeavor. While LinkedIn provides a less formal way to represent yourself to the business world, it should reflect your professional identity and aspirations. Use other social networking sites, like Facebook, to interact with family and friends on a more personal level.
Facebook and Twitter
Speaking of other social networking sites, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to look at your Facebook and Twitter accounts, so you should be equally thoughtful about what you share there. While there are privacy settings that can limit the information people see, you should still operate under the assumption that anyone can see anything you post on the internet at any time. If that is your guiding principle, you will have nothing to worry about. Keeping it clean means avoiding sexually explicit content, compromising photos, and references to drugs and alcohol. Be respectful in your interactions with others, and if you are sharing controversial opinions, even with your closest friends, articulate them in an intelligent and meaningful way. At the end of the day, you should be prepared to stand by anything you post online without a hint of remorse or embarrassment.
In the marketing and sales world, employers are starting to factor in Klout scores as well. In case you do not know, Klout measures an individual’s influence throughout his or her social network. By crawling content from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, Klout, and Wikipedia and incorporating over 400 signals, Klout will assign you a score between 1 and 100, with higher scores indicating more real-world influence, or “Klout.” The average Klout score is around 40. There has been some controversy surrounding Klout’s accuracy and relevancy, but since it is not an opt-in service, you will have a Klout score based on your public data, whether you want one or not. What this means for marketing and sales professionals, is that you are expected to be an engaged online presence who fosters connections with individuals across a diverse network, generates content that people respond to, and influences the behavior and opinions of others. If you have not done so already, you should establish your Klout profile and find meaningful ways to increase your score.
Social media has benefitted us in many ways, but it has also created another dimension to our professional identities and provided employers and recruiters a window into parts of our lives that we do not necessarily associate with our work life. We must evolve alongside technology, however, and that means developing a significant online presence that increases enthusiasm about who we are and what we can offer a company. Anything less is a disservice to yourself and your career.