Social media and your career – never the twain shall meet?

By Sabina Trench, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers

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Sabina Trench – WESTPORT, 087 453 5227

You may ‘like’ a lot, tweet up a storm or ‘Instagram’ ‘til dawn, but be careful; your employer (current or potential) may be watching. Will they like that they see? asks SABINA TRENCH, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Social media offers a chance to get connected, share personal milestones or become involved in topical issues. Increasingly, however, employers are checking online to see what their job applicants (and indeed, employees) are up to in their spare time. So, when it comes to the world of work, it is very important that you are vigilant in terms of your online activity.

The first step is to google yourself. What does this reveal? Can you say that your online profiles and work persona are in sync? If not, why not, and where are the issues? Almost 60 per cent of Irish people have a Facebook account, and it is one of the first items to appear in any Google search.

Now, take a look at your Facebook privacy settings. If a complete stranger looks for you on Facebook today, what level of access will they have to your personal information? It is incredible how many people have few or no security settings on their Facebook account.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. What level of connectivity is there between your Facebook account and that of your friends? Can they ‘tag’ you in photographs, for example? Your friend’s 30th birthday bash may have been awesome, but what happens when a friend tags you in their photos from 3o’c that morning?

Twitter is less popular, yet about 700,000 Irish people log on to Twitter every day. The nature of Twitter means that it allows people to be far more communicative online. Unlike Facebook posts, a person might tweet several times during the day, and for some reason, people are generally not too concerned about personal privacy on this platform.

Start by reviewing your Twitter stream and pay attention to your tweets and retweets. Remember that Saturday night watching the awards show on TV? No, but you did Tweet some pretty mean things about some of the celebrities. Maybe it’s time to delete, or lock down your account.

No one wants to rain on your social media parade. However, you need to be aware that if your online activity does not match your professional persona, it may be holding you back. If you overshare on Facebook, you might never secure a role where client confidentiality is important.

Peter ‘The Party Guy’ might get promoted to the social committee, but no further.

On the flipside, social media can be used to build your professional brand. LinkedIn is excellent for this purpose, but used properly, so are Facebook, Twitter and many other social media platforms.

Get linked in with the thinkers and leaders in your industry. Keep up to date on developments and trends by following relevant journalists, bloggers or agencies. Share your own work online if possible, using an e-portfolio, which is a great way to showcase your skills and build your brand.

Social media presents wonderful ways to engage with the world, at personal and professional levels. Just make sure you differentiate between the two, and you won’t go wrong.

Sabina Trench is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers, who have offices in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo and Mayo, plus a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, personal statements and application forms.