By Luisa Ares – Careers Advisor
A trainee accountant tweeted about hitting a cyclist with her car to her small number of Twitter followers. Soon enough however, her tweet went viral, resulting on her being suspended by her employer and being investigated by the police for failing to stop and report the accident.
Social media has changed our lives: how we communicate with others, access news and even, campaign (remember the Arab Spring?). As such, we cannot predict its long term impact in our lives, but the previous example gives an insight into how it may affect an online reputation…
Recent US and UK employers’ surveys show a sharp increase in the use of social media in recruitment of new staff.
- 37% of those employers polled have said they have screened candidates online (Harris Interactive 2013)
- A third of these employers confirmed that they have decided against hiring a candidate because they disliked what they saw. Reasons given: having spelling and grammar mistakes on profiles (54%), unprofessional postings or images (68%) or for criticising previous employers (Jobvite 2012).
You might think ‘My Facebook is private! Why should it matter?’. You are right to some extent, except that the online boundaries between the private and the public are now blurred. Anything you post online can be viewed one way or another by anyone, so it is in fact in the public domain.
So is the answer to protecting yourself to stop using social media altogether? Well, it is certainly easy to become paranoid about your digital footprint.
What can you do?
Search yourself using a search facility, e.g. Google and Pipl. If you are not happy with what you find, see if you can remove it or improve it.
- Check your privacy settings but do not rely on them completely. You may not have control over what your friends post about you online. Especially if they decide to share that silly picture of you from that party… pages may become visible by accident. Remember, once it is online, it is public!
- Think of yourself like a brand and how you wish to be seen online. Develop a consistent approach about how you present yourself and maintain it, just as a brand would. But remember ‘be real’!
- Think before you post and share! Use your common sense.
Having a good online presence is considered a positive asset by employers and can reap great benefits for you. It can offer great opportunities to connect with people you would not have dreamt of before. But as anything in life, use your judgement. Your online presence is your brand and your reputation, look after it!