Social Media: A Double Edged Sword

With the job market the way it is right now, it may be a good time to change your privacy settings, remove questionable pictures, and censor what you share on the internet.   Many companies are using social media to fire employees and filter out potential new hires.  In findings from a study done by an Internet security firm, Proofpoint, of companies with 1,000 employees or more, 8% reported that they have dismissed someone for their behavior on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.  What more, even before you get hired, big companies have started to commission businesses to do professional social media background checks on applicants. They look to see if what you are posting (how you are portraying yourself) is in line with their company’s values and image. So if you have some pictures of you wasted at a bar or other objective content posted, it might hurt your chance of working at that company. 

These dangers may seem grave enough to keep you away from using social media, especially if you are in the business world or looking for a job.  Yet, some companies actually encourage their employees to use social media.  As a business, social media is a very cheap and effective way to strengthen a brand and distribute messages.  One of the most successful businesses of late, Zappos is a huge advocate of social media and have improved their business by harnessing social media’s power.  In fact every employee has their own Twitter account, allowing each employee to act as an ambassador for the company and build those customer connections. 

When looking for a job, social media can be a big help. First off, social media sites, specifically LinkedIn, are great networking tools.  Secondly, when companies are doing these aforementioned social media background checks, they might see that you are actually in line with the business’s image based on what you post.  Keeping a blog or posting relevant articles and comments might make you stand out to an employer; they may even learn that you are more right for the job than your resume might illustrate.   Social media shows what you do in your free time and if you really are interested in the industry, this will show within you social media usage. 

So what can you take away from this? Social media is a double-edged sword. When used incorrectly, it can be damaging and hurt you professionally.  But, if you know how to use it, it can be a very effective and powerful tool.  To be safe, think about changing and constantly updating your privacy settings. Once Bing and Facebook team up, your “likes” and other social media interactions will show up as search results, making privacy settings more of an issue than ever before.  Bottom line, think of what you share on the internet as a reflection of who you are and as an extension of your resume.  You never know who may be looking…


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