If you think you control your online fate by not participating in any Social Media Networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc, you must think again. Even better, try popping your name in Google’s search window.
The results could be fascinating, riveting or downright appalling.
I submitted my name with a little fear and trepidation and found references to speeches I had long forgotten about, a video of me created 4 years ago at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford England, books and a vast assortment essays I had published, reviews of those books and essays, and I found (in the prestigious de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection online) a letter which I had written to an author almost 20 years ago. After perusing 24 of my Google pages, I stopped in my tracks when I discovered a reference to me as “an old wine in a new bottle.” I can only hope they meant a vintage champagne. I did not have the courage to continue reading my Google dossier but I will and you must also.
Today, at least 50% of employers will check your online presence and those same techies will eliminate more than 35% of all candidates because of their online persona.
You may not control your Google profile but you absolutely need to be aware of what’s there. That way, if, per chance, you’re applying for a management position in a sausage factory, you can proactively explain just how you came to be photographed in that big Animal Rights rally.
On the other – much more positive – hand, Social Media Networking offers a great opportunity to not only differentiate yourself from other candidates but also to bring your more traditional credentials to life. We’re all competing for visibility with employers and, ultimately, for that job offer. If your credentials look just as good as many others on paper, you have to find a way to make your less tangible attributes – your commitment, passion, personality and motivation – stand out. With all due respect to the mighty Groundhog of Punxsutawney, this is no time to bolt back into your den.
Just look at this Social Media utilization chart. It indicates there were over 300 million unique participants in 2009, and we know that number is increasing exponentially. Today there are more than 65 million people registered on LinkedIn alone.
Global Web Traffic to Social Networking Sites
Soooo, gird your loins and take your first Social Media steps forward. The best way to learn how to use these tools and to see the ways in which they can be of help is to sign-up and give one or two a test drive. Believe me, if I can “tweet and blog” you can too.
Once you begin to dip your toes in these virtual waters, keep the following in mind:
- Make certain each Social Media profile (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs etc) you create is professional.
- Keep your direct and web contact information up-to-date.
- Check to be sure your profile/personality is consistent from platform to platform. You cannot hide your wild side any place online.
- Pay attention to your headline – just as a book’s title should make you want to read it, your headline should capture your reader’s attention, promote your skills and demonstrate how you can help.
- Select a picture that conveys intelligence and enthusiasm. Ask yourself: is this someone with whom I would like to work?
- Last, but FAR from least, never ever post anything on any platform that you would not want your mother or daughter to see!