Posted At: December 2, 2009 12:33 PM
by Ashley Ross
College students are continually warned about the negative effects of irresponsible management of social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Concerns of this nature arise because personal social media accounts can either assist or hinder one’s search in the job market. Employers have easy access to potential employee’s accounts and possess the ability to research more background information on a job candidate than ever before. Personal online brand management is key to maintaining a reputable image in the eyes of employers.
Maybe you think that you have your social media profiles under control. Maybe you do not see a need to change your profiles to better your online reputation. You might want to think again because you cannot neglect the fact that online search results provide information as to what potential employers know about you, especially during the process of job searching.
According to the E-Business Architects Web site, Online Reputation Management concerns the management of your reputation on the Internet. ORM encompasses marketing and public relations that helps to “protect and manage your reputation and brand becoming actively involved in the outcome of search engine results.”
Keith Burton, president of Insidedge, said, “Young professionals need to know that just as we counsel CEOs and other corporate leaders that they are always “on call” and under the public microscope, so, too, are emerging professionals.”
Because social media profiles allow for us to display our creativity and a sense of individuality to the public, sometimes we lose sight of the benefits that we can receive from utilizing these resources as tools for self promotion.
Jessamyn Katz, director at Heyman Associates, said, “… don’t let your creativity and knowledge of new media overshadow your understanding of traditional media or the overall business. At the end of the day, employers want a ‘business person’ who uses communications/social media as a tool.”
Ron Culp, partner and managing director at Ketchum, said, “…so a page on FB [Facebook] or a Twitter feed is a great way to highlight that you understand the space and can use it to help clients. However, digital media also highlights your personal brand, so if you have inappropriate pictures or language on any of the social media sites, it can damage your chances.”
Social media accounts and any other types of personal Internet sites are meant to display the uniqueness of a person and to connect with friends and family. Those sites should not be abused. Exhibiting pictures of a wild and crazy party last Saturday night is not going to be very appealing to employers. Publishing scandalous pictures or having a friend tag you in such pictures could work against you.
Katz said, “Be careful, though – you can show who you are and demonstrate knowledge of current technology without going overboard.”
Managing your social media profiles is easy if the focus is directed toward responsible management. First, when creating an online account, always remember to engage in the content and continue to be interactive. Allowing your online accounts to remain untouched for long periods of time is careless. Second, by incorporating links to other personal profiles or sites increases awareness and self-promotion. Third, never forget your true purpose of creating online accounts as a tool. Do not manage your sites with recklessness. Always maintain a positive image and watch what others are saying about you.
Not only are employers using Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to uncover information about potential employees, but also they are looking toward LinkedIn and using a general Google search to find any pertinent information Katz said.
By searching through Google, employers can find a broad range of information about a person, including personal Web sites, picture sites, Blogs and Internet portfolios. So why not impress employers and “show ‘em what you got” through online tools like Blogs and/or Internet portfolios?
“A person’s experience (resume) and how they present (and sell) themselves in person, as well as references are more important. That said, more and more employers are doing a quick Google search on candidates to see what might be out there,” said Katz.
Highlighting your accomplishments and exhibiting previous work experience through the Internet are always good ideas. Using the Internet to get to the next step in your career shows resourcefulness and can give you a leg up on the competition in your job field. Inappropriate pictures and information about yourself on your social media accounts do not demonstrate the same work ethic as creating a blog for self promotion of your job-related abilities.
“Those who demonstrate a personal commitment to leadership set their personal brand apart from other candidates,” said Burton.
Leadership in the area of personal brand management on the Internet includes those people that care about their reputation in the working world. Those leaders have more opportunities to flaunt their positive educational or work experiences to potential employers by using social media sites not just for fun, but as a tool to gain an advantage on the competition.
“Just remember, nothing on the Internet is ‘private’ and once it’s out there, it’s usually near impossible to remove.” Katz said, “And, if you do have some dirty laundry that’s easy to find, be prepared to address if it comes up.”
Photo by Niki Gautier