Thursday, 14 April 2011

Keeping your career Facebook-proof

Just how facebook-proof is your career? Or perhaps more importantly, how facebook-proof is your future career?

Most individuals don't consider their online profile as forming part of their professional portfolio. Yes, we may all update our Facebook status 4 times a day, tweet constantly and even write a blog diary for the world to see, but in the main we view these activities as things we do personally - they form part of our personal life, not our professional life.

The trouble is, anything your friends or the general public can see and read, so can your current or potential employers. By using social networking or online communication sites, you are creating an online fingerprint, and if this fingerprint is, well let's say 'a little dodgy', it could have devastating consequences for your employment prospects - both now and in the future.

We can't blame employers or potential employers for checking out online profiles routinely. Let's be honest, if we have an interest in an individual (personal or otherwise!), we have all had the desire to 'google' them. Some recruiters are now suggesting that job seekers should limit or shutdown their Facebook accounts whilst job hunting, just in case a potential employer found anything on their account which they considered 'inappropriate'. Employers are also using social networking as a way to ensure all is well with their employees. Making offensive comments online about your boss could terminate any promotion or bonus opportunities that were previously heading your way; calling in sick and then tweeting about your hungover state could terminate your employment contract!

So social networking and online communication can cause problems for us all, if we're not careful. But that doesn't mean we can't continue to use these mediums to share our views and communicate with friends. It just means that we should all use the sites carefully, and ensure that they work for us, not against us. There are ways after all that social media can actually enhance our reputation and career prospects. So just pause for a second each time you're about to upload a photo or send out a tweet. Think about the possible negative or positive implications your update could have on your career, and then amend your actions accordingly.

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