BLOG: On Careers and Social Networking Sites

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Has there been an instance when you got in trouble because of what you (accidentally or intentionally) posted on a social networking site? Maybe you were supposed to be on a sick leave, but you were caught posting pictures that you’re spending the afternoon with your buddies at your usual haunt. Or maybe you wrote something about your current or former employer or colleague and news traveled fast.

Whether or not you believe in the power of social networking sites, or the Internet in general, all your activities online could be traced back to you and it can very well either make or break your career.

Take a look at your Facebook, Multiply, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or blog account and look at it from a stranger’s point of view. What you write, do or say online will be permanently stored on the Internet or make a lasting impression on people — or worse, on a prospective employer.

It’s become a common practice for HR officers to conduct background checks online. Once they come across a resume, they would probably do a Google search or look you up on Facebook. Your online accounts are public, all your posts and photos could be seen and they will be seen.

Here are a few things you could do to ensure that your social networking accounts are public-friendly:

  • Review what you write before you post.
  • Consider who will be reading; friends, family, colleagues, your boss, your would-be boss, etc.
  • If a friend tags you in a picture and it’s not a flattering photo, untag yourself.
  • Play with the security features of your account; you could make it private or you could enable the option where you have to approve all tags, mentions and other requests.
  • Never post demeaning photos of yourself or other people.
  • Think twice about writing something bad about others.
  • Unless you want to drive traffic to your sites (blogs, especially), remove yourself from search engines.
  • Keep an eye out for what your friends say about you.

But not all you do on the Internet could be damaging; networking could also help, particularly if you’re looking for a job. Or if you’re applying for a writing position, you could include a link to your blog or maybe freelance writing gigs. Sometimes, the people you impress online could very well recommend you to others.

It depends, really. ¬†I think it’s important to ask yourself: How do you want to be seen as?