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You are what you post . . .

. . . on Social Media

I’ve thought a lot about the topic of social media and the job search and advised a lot of job seekers on how to effectively leverage social media in their job searches, and I have come to two conclusions:

Most people do not realize the impact their online personalities and profiles will have on their employment and employ-ability

Most people do not fully leverage the resources available to them via professional and social networking sites

I cannot understand why this is the case!

Before you post anything to any online site – whether it be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube or any other social networking site – be aware that:

Employers do look at your Facebook & LinkedIn profiles and other social media you make available

Employers do make judgments about your decision-making, maturity, professionalism and, ultimately, your desirability as an employee

Is this fair? You might say no – I would argue YES.

You posted the photo, quote or URL on your profile, so you made the information available publicly on the web. Even if you only meant for your friends to see that photo, it became fair game when you put it on the net.

I am often amazed when I read newsfeed comments or see some of the new profile photos my Facebook friends and acquaintances share:

People complaining about jobs, bosses and co-workers; sharing personal problems; spending what looks like their entire day responding to and commenting on various polls, sharing applications, and requesting that I do the same.

Sure, I know – this is just personal; it’s only for your friends to see. And yes, I know you are vigilant about monitoring your privacy settings.

Well, look at your list of Friends.  I’ll bet it includes current and former co-workers and classmates, family members, acquaintances, and (probably) a current or former boss or two. Do you really want to share all of your personal commentary with all of these people?  Do you need to?  Just because you thought about something doesn’t mean you need to share that thought, observation or comment with everybody.

If you post something to Facebook, essentially, you are sharing it with everybody in your world – whether you mean to or not.

So, follow my advice:

Be very careful in what you post online, who you “friend” and with whom you “link”.

Just because someone has requested to be your friend on Facebook or connect with you on LinkedIn does not mean you have to say yes! Just as you have to be cautious in deciding what to post, you need to decide who you are going to welcome into which of your online worlds.

If you really just want Facebook to be personal, don’t friend or accept friend requests from professional colleagues. At a recent networking luncheon a gentleman asked if I was on Facebook and if we could be come Facebook friends. My response: “Yes, but I really only use Facebook to communicate with my family and friends. If you would like to connect with me online, please do so through LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn for business, and I’ll be happy to accept your invitation to connect.” Now, I don’t have any compromising pictures or comments on my Facebook page, but it is not a tool I use to communicate with business professionals.When I am on Facebook for business, I use the Facebook page I created for TheCampusCareerCoach.

Make some rules about how you are going to communicate online, follow these rules, and share them with people who wish to connect with you.

Because, used correctly . . . . .

Online resources like LinkedIn can be extremely powerful tools for professional networking, job hunting, and relationship building. 

Simply having a LinkedIn account will do nothing for you – it does you no good just to be there.

It’s just like going to a networking reception:If you show up, sign in, get a drink and then hide behind a fern in the corner of the room to avoid talking with anyone, you did not network! You wasted your time.

So, how do you do leverage a tool like LinkedIn? I don’t have all the answers, but LinkedIn does provide some good tutorials for getting started. For example,

What ever you choose to do . . . .

Think before you post, friend, link, or tweet!

Simple advice,  isn’t it?

Realize this: What you meant to do won’t matter, what you actually did will!

How you use social media sites will provide potential employers with some insight into how you will represent them if you are hired, how you will make decisions, what you value/deem important, and how you interact with others publicly and privately.

Are you delivering the online messages you want?

Check, because employers are online, too, and they are checking!

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