I have a friend. His name his Mark. Mark does not have a Facebook account. Nor does he have a Twitter, a Google+ or even a LinkedIn Profile. Mark is currently unemployed. A tragedy in itself, this has been the case for the past year. Completely employable and incredibly talented with a Masters Degree in Art, I have often wondered about the root of Marks’ perpetual availability. He is not unmotivated. He is socially adept, exceedingly popular and graced with superior creative capabilities. By all accounts, my friend would be a coup for any potential employer.
So what’s the problem?
It lies, I have decided, in Marks’ stubborn attitude with regards to his online presence. This artistic mastermind infallibly and rather naively believes that claiming a space to call his own on the world wide we will serve only to his detriment in the long run. Despite opposition from myself and other social media campaigners in our circle that creating an online portfolio of his work could do wonders for his situation, Mark remains static on his point, countering our every argument with the insistence that “exposing” oneself online will inevitably come back to haunt in the future. While I do not disagree that there is a certain etiquette to how one should act and interact online, I am a firm believer in moving with the times and, in 2013, that means progress is partly comprised by the use of a savvy online presence.
We live in a modern society, heavily influenced, nay, ruled by the internet. We shop online. We pay our bills online. We book our travel online. We read the news, check the weather, we learn, we interact, all courtesy of the web. So illogical, it seems to me, to shy away from it as a means to develop ourselves professionally.
A recent study by CareerBuilder.com showed that 37% of employers will use social media sites to screen potential employees before hiring. To my friend Mark this is a legitimate reason to remain absent from a google search. To others, a golden opportunity to showcase who you are and what you can do.
An up-to-date and professional LinkedIn profile, in addition to acting as your “anytime” resumé, proves that you care; about what you do, about how you are perceived and about being taken seriously in your career. It provides you with the ability to advertise your skills in the most appropriate manner and to make those all important connections with other professionals with whom you may not otherwise come into contact with.
Likewise, I am a fan of Twitter as a platform for presenting oneself. Less formal than LinkedIn, Twitter allows users to convey what they are about without being overly invasive or in depth; ergo, a useful and time effective method for employers to get a grasp of who you are and why they should work with you.
The same study conducted by CareerBuilder.com also revealed that a third of employers have found content on social media that has subsequently caused them to dismiss potential
employees. The off putting content ranged from incriminating photographs depicting alcohol or drug use and provocative images to individuals displaying poor communication skills or extreme behaviour.
The moral? While it can be tempting to post those pictures of your fun night out on the tiles for your friends to see, it’s important to remember who else may be silently taking you in. Often, your online profile will be the first impression others get of you. Why not present your very best self? Be proud of your work, use social media as your exhibit. Network, interact and participate and, ultimately, your savvy presence could lead to significant opportunity.