I read yesterday a fantastic article in the Guardian by Professor Cary Cooper on the subject of your online presence and the impact it can have on your job application. The article gave an insight into the mindset employers adopt when looking online at a candidate’s footprint, and the judgement calls they make about a candidate off the back of a google search.
The article initially demonstrates categorically that google is now THE tool of recruitment. As soon as an application gets to any stage of seriousness, the employer reaches for google and sees what gems about their candidate they can uncover. This is a complete paradigm shift brought about by the advent of the internet and our obsession in living our lives online. It certainly gives employers the heads up on any potential candidate, but can act as a rabbit snare for any unsuspecting individual.
Social media is a facilitator of conversation. It enables us to connect with more people than we would be able to with our physical manifestation alone. The websites we use are not actually an entity in themselves, not a separate parallel universe that doesn’t really exist, they are enablers, just as the telephone is. Our usage of social media nd the internet should be an extension of our true selves and how we would act in normal society, and not an environment where the rules are somewhat slackened and we can take on a new, more flippant and flamboyant persona.
The pitfalls associated with a more lackadaisical attitude to social media are illustrated strongly by Professor Cooper’s article. An employer’s penchant for a google search can allow them to uncover all sorts of potential nasties: that marginally offensive comment made during a football game, a derogatory remark intended to be funny, a drunken pic…. All of these types of things can leave a sour taste in the mouth of potential employers. What’s more, social media doesn’t allow for any context – what may seem funny at the time can seem wholly inappropriate a year down the line. Also, what may seem funny or acceptable to you may resonate completely differently with someone who has followed a different path in life. A funny situation to you may represent memories of a traumatic experience for someone else. If that person is the head of HR for your next job, you may come a cropper.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. Social media is indeed an enabler. It empowers us to reach far further than we could do with conversation alone. It begs to be used positively. The people who started the campaign for no make up selfies are a perfect example. Look at the scale they were able to achieve for their campaign within a matter of weeks. You too can replicate this positivity in your postings and activities on the social networks. Try to imagine yourself reading your own posts – are you bringing happiness and positivity into someone’s newsfeed, or are you the sort of person who is always complaining about the hand life has dealt?
Social media gives you the opportunity to talk about all of the positive things you are doing in life. It is a platform to scream from the rooftops “I am interesting, and I do interesting things!”
Raise money fro charity, play sport, volunteer, days out, travelling, your family, your studies, your successes, other peoples successes – it should all be shared on social media. In fact, the last point is incredibly important – other people. Congratulate, console, offer encouragement, offer to listen, share their joy, share their sorrow. The winners in life are wholly concerned with other people, and social media allows you to extend this concern exponentially. Be the person people get excited to see in their newsfeed. Be an energy creator – but it all starts with doing positive things in real life.
Turns out the character traits that the make a great human being also make a great employers – communicating well, caring for others, being positive and an energy-giver. If you are constantly radiating these attributes amongst your social network, you will be providing the online footprint of a person people want to employ. After all, you spend upwards of 8 hours a day with your work colleagues, you want to be spending them with good people.
Instead of fearing the negative impact social media can have on our lives, we should embrace the opportunity it gives us to do some good in the world. Fill your networks with positivity and it will only ever reflect well on you.
And if you can’t keep it civil, make it private!