Monday, April 12, 2010

Your Job Search: Are You "Social Savvy"?

I had a somewhat spirited discussion with my Intro to Mass Communication class at Curry College today on social media and the booby traps that lie in wait.

Many of the students couldn't make the connection between "public persona" and, in their minds, the "privacy" of Facebook.

"Yes," they conceded, "the personal information is there...but no one has the right to pry into my personal stuff."

We were talking about job interviews and the reality that employers will, in fact, use whatever resources are available to them to check a potential employee out. The students saw this as an invasion of their privacy (we just happened to be talking about mass communication and the law...invasion of privacy, libel and slander, etc.).

A presence on some social media site is almost universally expected today. Let's face it, particularly for communicators, you had better be there; I can guarantee your competition is!

But we're talking about college students. Shouldn't they have the right to post any- and everything they want?

Maybe so. But what should you have on your site?

Well, if you're planning to venture into some aspect of communication, I would recommend things that reflect your communication expertise as well as your accomplishments while in college.

Links to publications to which you have contributed. Links to websites you have played a role in designing. Your well-written, concise resume. Information about likes and dislikes, skills and abilities, but ditch the profanity-enhanced groups that you "belong" to.

But what about photos, you ask? Good question. As one student pointed out during our discussion, "Facebook has been here and we've been on it forever. We have a lot of photos posted."

He's right. You have been there forever. And, if you have a dream of finding a really great job with a really great organization, you would be wise to do some housecleaning. Get rid of the bare-belly, beer-swilling party photos. Keep the ones where you're having fun like the adult you hope to some day become. Show me your interest in travel or art or sports. Show me what an interesting employee you will be for my organization.

This could go on forever, but I'll leave off right here with my usual caution: "You only get one chance to make a first impression." Facebook (or LinkedIn or Twitter, for that matter) more and more is providing employers with that first impression. Are you "social savvy"?

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