This is a subject I’ve touched upon previously, prompted most recently by a number of articles discussing the morals and best practice of social media screening potential employees, candidates, and even customers credit worthiness.
The simple age of today’s newspapers, being tomorrow’s fish n’ chip wrappers is long gone. Social media has become a wholly integrated part of everyday life. Each social brand has its distinct territory; Facebook is more about ‘personal’ content, LinkedIn is more ‘professional’ content, and Twitter perhaps the ultimate ‘speaker’s corner’. Without doubt the lines are being blurred. And there it is. Pick your starting point, but wherever you begin, what began as a communication tool for a specific part of your life, has evolved to touch far beyond.
Fuelled by mobile internet, we have increasing cross pollination of communication channels. Social media is tribal, it influences our online identity. As some of our recent work with Internet Search Engineering talent has proven, these guys use social media to communicate before they would consider picking up a phone! It is this identity that you need to manage; your digital reflection . It may be the first picture (literally) that a stranger sees of you.
There is clearly no right and wrong in managing your ‘online brand’, it’s so very personal, but being aware is critical. Already in the last year I have had clients’ preconceptions of candidates influenced by:
- a candidates blogging habits (professional & personal interests);
- the degree (high & low levels) of activity of a candidate on LinkedIn;
- the size of their network on LinkedIn (large & small);
- ancient, rambunctious, University days photographs from Oktoberfest on Facebook!
Perhaps then a simple rule to guide on this; if you deem it fit for the public domain, expect it to be referenced. Be prepared for what you put out there to speak for you before you get a chance to speak. People judge, so be mindful of the judgements that could be made. Otherwise you need to actively manage your behaviour, your ‘sharing’ habits or your privacy settings!
Matt Cockbill is a Partner, and Head of Technology & EMI Practices for Berwick Partners and can be mostly found on LinkedIn or Twitter.
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