The Me Online vs. The Real Me vs. Work Me

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.

Michael Scott. World's Best Boss.

Michael Scott. World’s Best Boss.

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.

Office Sad Jim

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.

Office Pam gif

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?

Office Boss Man Jim

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.

Shoulder Angels

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!

Sincerely,

The Shoe

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7 thoughts on “The Me Online vs. The Real Me vs. Work Me

  1. It’s such a tricky thing. I really try to think about everything I post and how it might be received, but it’s easy to get relaxed about it. So important to remember the potential long-term impact of everything and anything you put online. Also I think it’s easy to get a bit more relaxed about things once you are established in a job, also a mistake. But at the same time, it does seem like people should be entitled to be themselves off the clock, assuming they’re not posting anything illegal, racist, hateful, ignorant, disgusting… Social media really has given people a whole new venue to expose themselves and many of us didn’t realize the long-term potential consequences when it first got started, and still dont….. Good reminder to be mindful of what you post.

    • Thank you so much for your insight! It’s a unique balancing act, as someone else shared with me on this subject. I really do think we didn’t think about the long term repercussions of social media, but I do try to put my best foot forward in real time as well as online. My rule of thumb is if my grandmother would be offended, I probably shouldn’t post it…and since my own mother has joined the social networking sphere, that rule of thumb has come in handy 😉 thanks again for the input!

  2. I think a lot of it probably comes down to just being a well-mannered, respectful individual. I don’t think it’s wise to completely alter your online personality–I mean, facebook is a social site, and to some extent, what’s the point if you can’t be yourself. If you’re the kind of person who willingly posts promiscuous pictures or vulgarities, then you also have to accept the fact that many employers may not be interested in you. Chances are good that they won’t be interested in you as a person either. But when it comes to posting cute things on your significant other’s wall, or sharing that hilarious meme (with or without the f-bomb), it’s more about being the person you are than anything else. I suppose I am somewhat of the opinion that if an employer goes “well she’s a little too openly emotional about her relationship, I don’t know if she’ll be a good match for us,” then I probably don’t want to work for that person anyway.

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