Managing Your Online Persona

Managing Your Online Persona

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Managing Your Online Persona

'Why interview when you can Facebook stalk?'

Checking out friends' Facebook profiles, peeping at their old embarrassing photos and status updates... We all do it.

But nowadays, so do your potential bosses.

Experts estimate that around 92% of of companies use social media sites to evaluate potential candidates

Whether you like it or not, everything you put on public display on the internet can always be traced back to you. Social media has transformed most of our lives for the better, and it has even presented new opportunities for recruiters and potential employers to screen potential candidates.

 

majority of employers can tell if a candidate is a suitable fit for their company by spending just 5-10 minutes browsing their social media profiles. First impressions have never mattered more - nowadays, the interviewer has already made up his or her mind, long before your very first hand shake...

 

Your Parents Were (Probably) Right

Every young adult's teachers, past employers, and parents have warned of the perils of online networking; my own mom used to lecture me, 'don't put anything online that you wouldn't want your grandparents to see!'

This seemed to be common sense - social media sites have privacy controls for a reason, and besides the obvious safety concerns of publishing personal information online, there are certain things that we want only our friends to see (or at least, online 'friends').

 

Your Online Personality

The problem with allowing people to view certain elements of your profile who are not your confirmed 'friends' is that it is so easy to misrepresent yourself.

If you allow employers to look at, say, one of your photo albums but nothing else, they may base their assumptions about your character purely off of what they see in those photos.

If their perceived idea of you contradicts what you presented to them in your CV and cover letter, you could be out of luck. In the past, companies relied solely on the information you presented to them directly to form their opinions, but now they're going online to learn about the 'real' you, for better or for worse.

 

Lose-Lose Situation

So, the best solution is to hide your entire account from the general public, right?

Wrong.

The problem gets a little bit more muddled up when we factor in the fact that, nosy employers find it 'abnormal and suspicious' when they're unable to find any trace of you on Facebook!

Facebook has become such a commonplace utility in everyday life that if they can't find you, they assume the worst: that you have something unpleasant to hide. Whether this mentality is justified or not remains up for debate, but it is an increasingly common attitude among recruiters.

 

It goes both ways

It turns out that more and more people are reportedly falsifying information on their social network profiles in an attempt to impress potential bosses and boost their chances of being hired.

Just as many people choose to hide certain pieces of information from employers, others are putting forth details - such as education and work experience - which are utterly made up. This could put qualified candidates at an unfair advantage because their online 'identity' pales in comparison.

Thus employers too should exercise caution when 'Facebook stalking' their candidates.

 

Is It Fair Game?!

There has been debate over whether it's ethical for employers to snoop on what are supposed to be purely social, non work-related outlets.

NO.

Candidates believe that their online identities should not be relied upon to make employment decisions.

YES

The general consensus among employers seems to be that if the information is out there for all to see, and it's legal to look at it, they will take advantage of the extra 'research'

It seems impossible to strike a balance between what employers want to see and what we want to show them. That's all the more reason for all of us to exercise our best judgment when networking online.

Sasha Small
Marketing Assistant 

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