Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Strategy: Be Cautious When - and Where and What - You Post

Looking for a job?  Seeking a career transition?  Be very cautious about what you post.  It can -- and does - come back to you haunt you!  Take action now to prevent career casualties down the road.

Recent events in the news about ill-advised photos posted on-line make the point, once again, that the on-line world is not a private place.  This has happened time and time again, and while there is public outrage now, it will be short-lived and folks will go about posting more private messages and comments until it happens again.  It's a cycle.  

Photos, comments, articles, rants, . . . that are posted are there to stay and for all to see, including prospective employers, potential business partners, and network contacts.  Ill-advised postings ruin reputations and along with it chances for new career opportunities.

Reputations ruined; careers de-railed
It’s a topic worth carefully thinking about and considering your future actions.  If you are seeking new career opportunities, don't let postings, comments, and photos that show you in a negative light ruin your chances in the short-run and even de-rail your career long-term.  Ask yourself:  Is a momentary rant worth a long-term consequence?

Your social media presence is out there for ALL to see.  All means potential employers, recruiters, prospective business partners, network contacts, educational institutions, and potential professional and business associations you desire to join.  They will all review your on-line presence in social media as they seek to know who you are and if they want you on their team.

Take steps to secure your professional future
So, job seekers, take some steps now to secure your professional future:
  1. Review each social media site on which you participate.  
  2. Decide if it is in your best interest professionally to continue to use that site.  Close down accounts that don't enhance your standing in your professional community -  . . . YES, that means even those personal sites that you use to chat with friends and think "no one else will ever see."
  3. Check your postings on every social media and networking site on which you decide to keep the account open and continue to use.  Delete any material - comments, photos, rants - that does not enhance your professional reputation, including sites you consider personal such as Facebook.
  4. Read every word of your Linked In profile.  Revise and update it.  Employers with almost 100% certainty will visit this site and view your profile before hiring external candidates, and before promoting, expanding the duties of, or championing for high-potential its internal candidates.
  5. Clean up your e-mail accounts and delete e-mails that you don't want seen --accidentally.  
  6. Review your e-mail address book, and eliminate potential trouble spots.
  7. Close down e-mail accounts that are NOT useful to you.  Keep open only those e-mail accounts that you use and monitor regularly!
  8. Use the STOP rule before sending any e-mails, texts, or comments when you're angry or in an emotional state:
    1. S - stop and take a breath before you touch that keyboard!
      1. Don't post a "cute" photo of you that with a clearer head you realize is questionable at best.
      2. Don't respond too quickly to any comment or article you read on any social media site.
      3. Don't respond immediately to any e-mail that makes you mad.
    2. T - take a time-out.  
      1. Walk around your office, the building, down the street in order to give your emotions some time to settle down and yourself some time to think.
    3. O - opt for writing your message on a medium that can't be sent anywhere.  
      1. Getting the feelings out is OK if you do it in a medium that can't hurt you.  
      2. Write the old fashioned way with paper & pencil on a tablet, or type if you must but type your thoughts in a Word document that you type and file away.  
    4. P - pause any actions you want to take for 24 hours.  
      1. A day later, the situation might look very differently, and you'll be glad you STOPPED an action that could have held professional consequences for you and your career.
A Valuable Tool . . .  IF . . You Manage it well
Social media, including the various networking sites and your e-mail accounts, can be a very positive tool for a job seeker who manages it well.  It can speed up your search, enable you to make new contacts, allow you to do research with the click of a key, promote your professional skills and competencies, enhance your professional image, and allow faster communication.

However, as we have seen, it can also have the opposite, or negative, effect.  Take action now to prevent career casualties down the road.

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.  
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