Let’s start with a fact: today’s job market is tough so it would be silly to put yourself off the short list. Students should pay great attention to controlling their social media. It’s obvious.
How many stories have we heard about people being fired because someone from HR or a manager saw unwanted pictures or tweets posted by that employee? You think you control and choose what you want to share, from your LinkedIn to your Facebook to Instagram. Because it is up to you to adapt the privacy settings on each of these, you think you control it all.
But on Facebook, a friend of a friend comments on something you post. Another friend sees it and already, probably what you thought 15 people would see, travels and suddenly 1,000 can see the original picture or comment. And it spreads fast.
No wonder it’s called viral: it goes fast and it is not controllable. Social media slip-ups are frequent. Rules are written and they need to be known but nobody takes the time to read all these: if you’re part of a group on Linkedin for example, someone from the same group can see and learn a lot about you even if this person is not a direct contact of yours. Even Snapchat, with that limited time to see a picture … there’s apps that can preserve that moment forever.
Today, being out there is considered as good and cool. Each of us can be considered as a brand. Couple months ago, while I was working on medotcom, I thought of this: “We are all Kardashians“. It is becoming more and more true. We want to share, to be part of the news, to be the news. We post, we share, we comment. But let’s do it in a smart way, in a way which will help us having that extra thing to get the job we want.
Ten, fifteen years ago we wanted to be completely anonymous on the Internet, that is why we all have stupid pseudonyms on Skype for example and it is not even a network. What is the situation today? Well, today it is a necessity to be out there, otherwise we’re not considered as “cool” or “connected” or “in line with our time / hello, we are in 2015!!!”. But there is this balance to find between being cool and having a job while still being cool.
So yes you’re a brand, but an employer would like to have someone he/she can trust and take as less risk as possible for its new recruit. A slip-up, even just one will stay. And between two very good candidates, the decision is made quite quickly if one wrong element is brought up.
Your career is more important than few memorable moments. Whatever your career is, whether you have your own company or you work in a solid accounting firm. Things stay.
You are a brand, you want to be a brand, you’re unique and you want people to know it, you want to share it. That’s OK. But you have to do it in a smart way. How? By limiting – to zero – the number of posts of silly pictures, tweets and comments. Imagine yourself in twenty years from now, you’re in competition for a seat at the board of directors and someone comes up with that picture.. ..it becomes public. You’re out, you don’t get the seat.
Or imagine your parents see that unwanted comment. This is the kind of self-censorship you should have. Just because you want to be a brand does not mean you can do everything. Be a respectful brand. You’re out there. You’re a public person. It’s actually because you want to be a brand that you should watch out. This is part of the essence, the actual definition of a brand. It is public. What is the point having a private brand, no one is aware of, just for you ? to keep it for you ? So, if you want to be out there, brand yourself in a smart way and usually the smart brand wins in a competitive market. It is about differentiating yourself in your own way.
And that could get you the job. Because if you have a blog or else and you show that you are into artistic black and white pictures for example, and the recruiter appreciates that, then it is a competitive advantage, an added value. These terms are marketing terms, but at the end, this is what you should use if you consider yourself as a brand.
It shows that you spend some time on a hobby – you share it and you show creativity in writing a blog and/or having your different albums on Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr or Picsart. Or, if you have a Youtube channel and you direct video clips of your friends: it shows management skills and creativity. Or let’s say you argue on geeks’ blogs and you give advice and solutions: it shows analytical reasoning, problem solving skills and teamwork. So yes, there are some interesting points to take out from being on social media.
Also, let’s keep in mind that the people making hiring decisions today are minimum 35 years old. They were not born with social media. Facebook started to be the Facebook we know when these recruiters were 25. They will not understand nor accept such behavior of misbehaving in public space. Because you represent the company, as simple as that. If as an employee you misbehave – even outside working hours – you’re still the one “working for Company ABC” …and the company’s reputation is at stake. And do not misunderstand me, even a “cool company” will have this reasoning. It is the company’s brand image and public image which is out there. This is the logical thought process. Maybe in 10-15 years from now, this will be another story. Students of today will be the recruiters of tomorrow and they will maybe be more lenient for social media slipups, but that’s a maybe only, I wouldn’t take the bet.
Furthermore, because social media is about being social, it would be good to help each other: it could start by telling a friend that his/her specific picture/comment should not be out there. Sometimes we do not realize it until someone tells us about it. We are now all part of many communities with all these social networks, it would be great to raise a flag/advise when something is wrong and help that same person in that same community.
It is easy to state that “at some point everything can be known, then what? Who cares? There is so much, it will be lost.” Well, not sure this is the proper reasoning. Because, a job is important. Having a job, an occupation is part of our life. It makes us meet new people, improve ourselves, reach a goal, develop skills etc. And yes it also pays the rent, it enables us to go out see the new Star Wars movie, buy this new phone, go to this music festival. So if you are willing to give up on all this by saying, “it’s ok it was just a picture”. It’s not just a pic/tweet/comment.
It makes me think of this commercial for Schneider Electric “I am just the facility manager“. It’s not just a “just”. Of course it is exaggerated in these commercials, but it gives an idea to which extent it could go. So it’s not “just a pic” and not “just a job interview”.
Your online presence should be considered as an opportunity to value the brand you actually are, the same brand you are trying to build online.
So, social media is like any tool, it can be dangerous if you don’t know how to use it. The thing is nobody gives us the instructions, because there are none except our own common sense. So yes, it is down to us, to our common sense. A simple as that. Social media are not “dangerous”, it is the limit/that common sense you set to yourself which is the danger, that bullet in your own foot or that great opportunity.
This article and point of view is solely mine, Igor Windisch – founder & ceo of medotcom – a platform actually enabling us to group/centralize, list and share all our online presence on a single page. That makes it easy to find and be found and forget about all these tricky nicknames here and there. If a person is seen as a brand, medotcom helps communicating a clear and effective message about who we are online, in the simplest way. And actually, medotcom addresses to actual brands too, not only to individuals. That will not correspond to everyone out there in the social media world, but the ones who will understand the power and simplicity of it will sign up and be happy to be part of that social media directory.