Protecting Your Social Footprint

Facebook, the largest social media site in the world, has been a part of lives for more ten years. Arguably social media is our primary source for media and our dominate choice for communication.  And, yet understanding the impact of social media is still a complicated matter.

You may be surprised to learn the Gen X’rs spend as much time on social as millennials, if not more.

A recent report from Nielsen found that Generation X, or people between the ages of 35 to 49, spend almost seven hours a week on social media. Millennials, aged between 18 and 34, spend a little more than 6 hours per week, the study found. By contrast, people over 50 spend about 4 hours a week on social media. (Source: Fortune)

Most would make the assumption that LinkedIn is the only place where social media and careers can collide. At the least, this is a naïve conjecture. We all crave and demand information in just a few quick key strokes and employers are no different.  A resume has been meticulously groomed and carefully worded to present an image and highlight your skills. But, your Facebook profile is another story. Many of us reveal our true personalities in status updates and Instagram pictures. We freely share thoughts, opinions and personal details about our life that could easily influence a potential employer.

Is it fair for an employer to go online looking for personal profiles? Well, that all depends on the job. Is it a violation of privacy? Well, posting on the internet is like screaming on street corner. You have little control over what others – even if they are not a part of your intended audience – hear.

So, what’s the bottom line? As WOC’s in the workplace we are well aware of the burden of managing perception. We can experience unfair stereotyping or biases that are in no way a product of our ability to do our jobs. There’s plenty of social research that underscores the likelihood of being hired is often determine by how similar you are to the hiring manager and that person’s personal affinity towards a potential candidate. Basically, people want to know if you could be there friend in real life. Hence, the urge to snoop around social media.

By speaking with representatives from 120 prestigious law firms, management consulting firms and investment banks throughout the course of two years, Rivera found many people are looking for a good “cultural fit.” In other words, they want to find people with similar profiles to themselves outside of work. In fact, more than half of the study’s participants rated “fit” as the most important criteria in hiring — even more so than analytical thinking and communication (Source: Huffington Post)

We are experiencing turbulent time politically and socially. For many people, social media is a means to discourse and expressing their personal view points. Unfortunately, this comes with offline risk. Below are some basic precautions to protect your social media footprint.

  1.    Adjust your privacy settings. For most platforms you can limit who can easily view your content. But beware, NOTHING is truly private. It’s far too easy to take a screen shot and share your social posts without you even knowing.
  2.    NEVER identify your employer in a social post that is questionable or shares details that only other employees would know.
  3.    Consider using a pseudonym. Facebook policies forbid fake names, but you may be to use initials without a problem. Ex: A. Mandy Morris on Facebook and Ashley M. Morris on the actual application.

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