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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Are your social networking profiles career friendly?

This is a guest blog by Keredy Stott of Punch Communications PR Agency. Hear how employers really are checking your online profile...

Leaving behind the relative safety of education and heading to work can be a hugely exciting yet nerve-wracking time. Suddenly you’re out in the world alone and having to fend for yourselves.

It is now fairly standard practice, though perhaps a little unfair, for a potential employer to use a search engine to research a candidate. With 600million of us signed up to social networks it’s not hugely surprising that most of us will appear in those search results.

As you know, the job market is tougher than it has been for many years but because everyone deserves the very best chance to secure their dream job, Punch Communications, a social media, PR and SEO agency has written some tips so graduates won’t fall foul of their virtual best friends - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Facebook
Everybody loves Facebook, and brilliant as it is for sharing graphic pictures of drunken nights staggering around campus wearing traffic cones on your head, if you leave your profile open for anyone to see, your potential employer could also see your antics.

Facebook’s privacy settings are fairly bulletproof but it’s worth taking the time to make sure you have them set as tightly as possible to restrict who can and can’t see your profile and picture albums until you trust them.
Another tip is to make sure that your public avatar is fairly inoffensive, nothing wrong with showing you having a good time but leave the traffic cone in the road for that one.

Finally, remember that your Facebook status is open to be viewed by anyone who looks at your page and as such you should think carefully about ‘what’s on your mind’.

Twitter
Twitter is slightly easier to control, for starters it is text based so there aren’t really the same sort of risks as there are with Facebook’s photograph albums. That said, as you may have seen in the news, it’s really very easy to come unstuck with a comment that you might have thought was innocent but others might not.
As a general rule, if your Twitter ID represents your actual identity, think twice before you hit send – firstly, do you really need to swear. If you need to rant away then we’d suggest adopting a pseudonym and keeping it to yourself and those you trust.

Twitter has the option to protect your tweets unless you approve the viewers, depending on how you use it this may be a good option, particularly whilst job hunting.

If you do choose to have a publicly viewable profile, as well as what you Tweet, be mindful of who you follow and retweet as this could also reflect on you as a person.

LinkedIn
You may not yet have a LinkedIn profile but I suggest you sign up; it’s essentially the number one business to business social networking platform. It’s used mainly to connect with colleagues and people you have done business with as well as others in your industry but it’s used by some agencies to headhunt new staff.
LinkedIn follows a fairly rigid structure so it’s not particularly easy to make the same mistakes as with Facebook and Twitter, however because it’s a means to further your careers it’s worth double checking spelling, grammar and format of your profile just to make sure it’s as it should be.

Nevertheless, a feature on LinkedIn is the ability to link it to your Twitter feed, so if you choose to connect the two networks be aware both audiences will be viewing your tweets. You can selectively choose which content goes into your LinkedIn feed when you connect it to your LinkedIn account but do be careful on those payday nights out!

General advice
For any social network, you could run a ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ account, this is very common and it does eliminate some of the risks associated with a ‘one for all’ approach. If you choose this route it’s probably a good idea to include your professional social profile details in your CV. A potential employer is less likely to search for you online if you provide them with the information. This also shows an understanding of the growing importance of social media in the workplace.

Social networks are the place to share so do so with snippets of information that interest you, such as news stories or articles, particularly ones that are applicable to the field you are hoping to enter. Doing so will display a dedication and enthusiasm to your pending career that could stand you in good stead above other candidates.

Most companies will have an ‘acceptable use policy’ for the internet or social networking sites during the working day. At an interview, a pertinent question might be ‘What is your position on social networking as a way of communicating with your customers and promoting the brand?’. You should get a fairly conclusive answer, and if it’s a ‘no-no’ then resist the temptation to log on during the day when you should be doing other things. If you do have access, show your propensity to become a social brand ambassador and don’t become the latest ‘I hate my job’ Facebook status statistic.

Don’t let the world of work put you off social networking as it can be hugely advantageous, particularly when colleagues and business associates connect with you outside of work. The Golden Rule is to think twice before you hit ‘send’ or ‘upload’ a picture. Ask yourself what would a potential employer make of it?
Stick to that and you’ll have long and prosperous careers, and we at Punch Communications wish you the very best of luck with them. If you’re looking for jobs in PR, social media or SEO, visit our site; you might be just what we’re looking for but make sure your social profiles are career friendly first!

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