The simple answer to this question is: “That depends on you.” Social media is like any other tool – you can use it to good effect, or be destructive with it. There is no doubt that, if used well, social media can be a very helpful to career development. In today’s world, it is critical to networking, helping you to research and make new connections; to create and share value; and to build relationships and maintain contact. Social media is also the most accessible, highly effective channel for building your personal brand. Social media may well help you to find a job, or boost your chances as a candidate for a position. But if not used well, it can also hurt your career.
Social Media and Your Career – here are three top do’s and don’ts to consider:
- Sharing, not over-sharing – Do share your personal branding information, as well as your thoughts, comments and status updates – but in a wise and professional way. Expect that your boss and colleagues, as well as your future boss and future colleagues, will visit your social media pages. Beware of over-sharing personal information, of sharing inappropriate content and of sharing information in such a way that makes you seem weak, unreliable, immature, prejudiced or over-zealous.
- Being private in public – Do use the full privacy settings on social media sites that you use purely for personal connections, and make sure that you connect there only with people you actually know. This can help protect you from your workplace accessing personal information about you. However, be aware that there is really no such thing as anonymity and confidentiality when it comes to the internet, and it is wise to expect that content shared by you or about you, even under the disguise of usernames, is most likely to stay with you. It can help to clean up your Facebook and twitter accounts by deleting posts or tweets that potentially portray you in an unfavourable light, and to also ‘un-tag’ yourself from photographs of you posted by your friends and connections.
- Behind the screen – etiquette matters even more – You can boost your personal brand and enhance your professional reputation by using social media sites to share interesting and worthwhile content that is related to your industry or job. LinkedIn particularly offers plenty of opportunities to join and interact in professional groups in such a way that builds your credibility and develops your status in your industry. It is vital to interact with professional decorum in these groups, avoiding controversies and showing even more restraint than you would in a face to face environment. It is important to remember that it is harder to correct misunderstandings and to be certain that an attempt at reconciliation has worked in an online environment.