As I sit on a city bound train on a grey commuter morning, I am struck by the sight of many people using their smart phones, tablets and other devices to keep in touch, swap information and sample the wonders of the digital age. This of course is just the visible side of the whole other alternate universe which embraces their on-line identity. Through social networking we can present a unique face to the world. Perhaps no other development in the last 30 years has come close in terms of revolutionizing the way we share information about ourselves with others.
The ability to do this is a blessing, but when I consider the various stories I’m told about people regretting some of the information they have made available, I am reminded of a very old saying. “Once it’s in writing, it’s out there forever”. The thing we need to be aware of is that some of the people who may eventually look at your online identity are the same people you may be dealing with in the search for a new position or new business opportunities. They may even be looking at your profile via your own invitation. So, what would be the things that they would rather not know about you (and perhaps you may regret sharing with them.) Here’s six suggestions:
- Photographs of you doing silly things. We all have our moments but once it is out there – well what can I say. Try to edit your profile so that you appear fun loving as well as responsible enough not to allow things to creep in that might reflect a lack of judgement –hardly a plus for prospective employers or business partners.
- Insulting and derogatory comments about others. Whilst this might give you a chance to vent your spleen to the world it does make you look vindictive. If you must say something make it positive or at the very least constructively critical.
- How much you hate your current job. Perhaps you do but it’s not a good look when I’m thinking of dealing with you. The employment market is global, but smaller than you might think. How do I know that you won’t be talking about my company in that way soon? If you don’t like your job (and plenty of people don’t) then keep it to yourself.
- Your extreme views on issues. It is your right to be a rabid socialist or an ultra-right conservative but if you get a reputation as one it will proceed you and may not be the sort of thing an industry employer feels comfortable with (they have views as well)
- You can’t spell or express yourself properly. We’ve all seen those amazing web sites which treat the rules of the English Language as optional extras! A first look at your profile is essentially like a page of your CV. You wouldn’t send in an incorrect CV so why have an on-line profile that sits somewhere between pidgin and bogan!
- “I don’t care what people think of me, what I do and what I think and I’ll say what I want!” All very individualistic but not very diplomatic and diplomacy is a part of every job description. Better to be known as a person who thinks before they write (or post) and is considerate of other views.
Common sense really? Social Media is opening doors for many people but slamming them shut for others as well. By all means chronicle your life, but portray yourself as a person worth employing or doing business with. Staying abreast of these six points is a good place to start when you next review your personal profile.