When I was in school, professors used to warn me about what I put out into the world wide web because you never know when your future employer may check up on you. I thought I was safe making my Facebook page as private as possible, and making sure even there I was fairly well-behaved. I even went the extra step of befriending co-workers only after a certain period of time, and never, ever “friending” superiors and bosses.
However, what my professors didn’t touch on was that your online interactions with so called “friends” on Facebook are just another area to consider when you are uploading that particular selfie (I still shudder at the word!) or typing that one particular status.
See, something has changed since graduation. A few years ago, the majority of my friends on Facebook were recent graduates, working part-time jobs and still embracing the camaraderie that college used to offer.
Now, a fair amount of those same friends are working full-time jobs for well respected companies, some are even supervisors in positions where they oversee entry-level employees and interns.
It is funny, because being in a position of that nature, I am starting to view what my friends, and ultimately what I post online quite differently.
I look at a lot of resumes. I receive a lot of cover letters. I also am given links to online portfolios and LinkedIn accounts-but I don’t stop there. My curious nature will search the individual on their Facebook page or see if they have a Twitter handle, and so far, the majority of candidates have kept a fairly squeaky clean online persona.
Now, I’m on the fence with seeking out information on individuals via Twitter and Facebook, because there is a part of me that believes that how a person behaves and acts off the clock isn’t my business and I shouldn’t condemn them (or applaud them, pending on how you look at it) for their various acts they proclaim in the online world.
On the same note, I can’t help but think that sometimes the behavior that is shared is a good indicator to the person’s overall personality-including their work ethic and how they will conduct themselves as an employee.
That’s where I get nervous.
I like to think I have a fairly clean online presence. Maybe a few too many shared quiz results (thanks a lot Buzzfeed), maybe a few too many cutesy smiley faces on my boyfriend’s wall, and maybe there are a few photos from college theatre that might raise an eyebrow or could be deemed questionable by the wrong audience (no pun intended).
However, is that how my Facebook friends see me? You might wonder why it matters what your Facebook friends think. They like you for who you are (that is, you are actually being the “real you” online and not the “cyber you” that so many people actually become on social media sites) and want you to express yourself! Right?
What happens when that Facebook friend lands a sweet job at a fantastic company, and a few months later shares on Facebook that his company has an opening for a position you would be perfect for?
Do you think they will find your vulgar jokes, questionable selfies, oversharing posts, and whiny/complaining/too-much-information statuses as charming as they did before?
Some individuals might still find them charming. Some individuals might not care what you do after hours (or even on the clock). But there might be a few that question if they really want to bring you on as an employee because a few weeks ago you shared a status about how ” I hate work, life sucks, racial slur and inappropriate/sexual comment about current co-worker, ending with I can’t expletive wait for the expletive weekend.” (Or something along those lines)
As a young working professional, and as an aspiring writer, I’m wondering what sort of online presence I should keep and maintain, and how I should go about it. The young working professional is being the right shoulder angel, gently coaxing me to post less, be more vague, and minimize my online visibility. Meanwhile, my writing side is being a sassy smoldering temptress on the left shoulder, seductively pointing out that I won’t get anywhere in the writing world if I don’t create an online identity and voice.
Which leads me to you, fellow followers, friends (both on Facebook/Twitter and in real life): What are your thoughts on your online identity? Should we all be completely honest? Should we keep a pleasant online “FACE”? Or should we forgo the social media craze for the greater good of our jobs and their security?
I look forward to your thoughts!