Your words are no longer your own, especially if you tweet them, post them, tumblr them . . . you get the point. You must be especially aware of this if you are actively seeking employment. Today’s employers have the means and the motivation to search the Internet for as much information about you as they can.
The old excuse of: “It’s my personal account,” is no longer a valid one. Why? Because in today’s world of the social employee, you are not just a representative of your own brand.
It’s About Marketing You
Before you worry about the reputation of a potential employer, think about your own reputation. Whether you’re a recent college grad or an experienced corporate manager looking for a new opportunity, using social media the right way is a great way for you to propagate a desirable personal brand.
Certainly, you are marketing yourself as not just an employee but as a human being. You want to find an employer who wants you to fit the culture as much as you want to fit the job. If you are actively seeking employment in the entertainment industry, creating social media feeds full of pictures of you attending concerts and club openings will be more effective in attracting employers than pictures of you sitting in a board room.
If you are posting pictures, Jim Joseph offers great advice on using them in your personal branding strategy: “Keep drinks out of view and be careful about certain social situations (if you know what I mean), especially if you are trying to present a more professional personal brand.” It’s advice you have likely read before, especially the drinks part, but how often have you paid more attention to the instant part of Instagram when out with friends?
Even if you have yet to land that job, you should think about how your social media posts serve your followers, or your community. That community might include your parents and friends right now, but it could and should include potential employers. How will potential employers be served by a tweet about how you can’t concentrate on a task because you’re distracted by Netflix?
It’s About Your Future Employer
Sure, you haven’t been hired yet, but you will be. It’s never too early to start acting as if you’ve already been hired by that Fortune 500 company you’re researching through Glassdoor.
As social employees prove, they are representatives of the organizations that hired them. It’s easy to forget in this typeandclick world that the more professional you wish to appear, the more necessary it is to edit. Punctuation and spelling really do count, even on Twitter and Facebook. Even your social media posts.
Twitter is a notorious platform for the hastily created post, yet it should be reviewed and edited more cautiously than Facebook. You have just 140 characters to use. Make every one of them count by using them consistently and professionally. If you are tweeting a link or retweeting something, be sure it’s something you believe will pass the new media smell test: would you be able to defend your actions if called upon by a journalist?
You don’t want to be labeled as the next Justine Sacco before you even get hired. Chances are you won’t get hired if you are. Her thoughtless social media post derailed her career and her reputation in a matter of seconds. If you think before you post, you may struggle to land the job you want.
Be a Brand Ambassador
Brand ambassadors are today’s equivalent of celebrity product endorsers. They typically volunteer to promote products and brands because they are enthusiastic about them or they have received swag for doing so. Some are paid, some are not.
Above and beyond using social media to create your own brand, you have the chance to position yourself as a brand ambassador. There is no rule that states a brand ambassador must be a celebrity. If you are consistent and professional in how you present yourself online, you have the potential to rise to the title of brand ambassador for your future organization.
You’re already your own brand ambassador. Don’t forget to post like one.
This article was written by H.E. James.
Image credit: CC by Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office