Your words are no longer your own — especially if you tweet them, post them on Facebook, or share them on Tumblr — and you must be especially aware of this fact if you are actively seeking employment. Today’s employers have the means and the motivation to search the Internet for as much information about you as they can.
The old excuse of, “It’s my personal account,” is no longer a valid one. Why? Because in the world of the “social employee”, you are not just a representative of your own brand — you’re also a representative of your company’s brand.
It’s About Marketing Yourself
Before you worry about the reputation of a potential employer, think about your own reputation. Whether you’re a recent college grad or an experienced corporate manager looking for a new opportunity, using social media the right way is a great strategy for building a desirable personal brand.
Certainly, you need to market yourself as not just an employee, but also as a human being. Employment is a two-way street: you want to find the company that fits you, and the company wants you to fit it.
What does it mean to “use social media the right way” to build a personal brand? That depends on the kind of employment you’re looking for. For example, if you are actively seeking employment in the entertainment industry, you’ll want to create a social media feed that is full of pictures of you out and about, attending concerts, club openings, and the like. These pictures will be much more effective than photos of you sitting in a corporate boardroom.
If you are posting pictures on your social media platforms, author and personal branding expert Jim Joseph offers some great advice: “Keep drinks out of view and be careful about certain social situations (if you know what I mean), especially if you are trying to present a more professional personal brand.”
Even if you have yet to land the job you want, you should think about how your social media posts serve your followers, or your community. That community might include your parents and friends right now, but it could — and should — also include potential employers.
What will potential employers think about a tweet about how you can’t concentrate on a task because you’re distracted by Netflix?
It’s About Your Future Employer
It’s never too early to start acting as if you’ve already been hired by your dream company.
The aforementioned “social employee” is a representative of the organization that hired them. If you want to appear professional, you need to be careful about what you post — even at the level of spelling and punctuation, and even on platforms as seemingly frivolous as Twitter or Tumblr.
Twitter is notorious for hastily created posts, but you should really be reviewing your Twitter content more cautiously than your Facebook profile. You have just 140 characters on Twitter: make every one of them count by using them consistently and professionally. If you are tweeting a link or retweeting something, be sure it’s something you believe will pass the new media smell test: would you be able to defend your actions if called upon by a journalist?
You don’t want to be labeled as the next Justine Sacco before you even get hired — if you ever get hired, that is. Sacco’s thoughtless social media post derailed her career and her reputation in a matter of seconds.
Think before you post on any platform, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.
Be a Brand Ambassador
Above and beyond using social media to create your own personal brand, you have the chance to position yourself as a brand ambassador for your company (or the company you want to work for). If you are consistent and professional in how you present yourself online, you have the potential to establish yourself as a powerful brand ambassador. This can have some seriously positive effects on your career: you may find yourself ascending the ranks more quickly or receiving offers from your dream employers left and right.
Everything you do on social media, you do as a “brand ambassador” for yourself. So take care to create a personal brand that is professional, trustworthy, and respectable. Who knows: your social media activity may just lead you right to your ideal job!