We’ve all been there. Your mouse hovering over the untag button. Your face flushed, tongue doing the Miley and your hairstyle left the building hours ago. The idea of reporting the photo your tagged in as abuse floats through your mind. You begin to wonder… Do my friends secretly hate me?
These are the types of photos we don’t want future employers to find. It is the possibility of recruiters/professors/bosses stumbling onto these less than perfect photos of ourselves that turn us into digital hermits. This paranoia often makes people feel like they need to go into digital hiding. And yes, while any employer worth their snuff will be doing some digital digging on you, there’s no need to become invisible. Instead, optimize your social presence.
Social media gives us all the tools we need to brand and present ourselves as whoever we want to be. When people Google your name, be in charge of what comes up. Don’t allow your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to control you. Take back ownership of your social profile and its privacy settings to create a representation of your best self.
Working in the field of social media, I see lots of different types of transparency online. No two web personalities are quite the same. Some are completely honest about the (literal) highs and lows of their lives, sharing details about their lives that could be considered an anonymous tip to police. Think about it though, a risque tweet from a VICE correspondent about their night out isn’t likely to get them called into HR. If anything, it may raise their profile. They’re being on-brand.
On the other side of the coin, it’s not rare to see a social media professional keep completely separate accounts for business and pleasure. Personally, I prefer a happy medium. I’ve built a healthy following sharing my sass with the world and I’m lucky to work in a field where being tongue-in-cheek is almost a requirement. If I were to suddenly shift my online persona into a more buttoned-up (and non-cursing) version of me, I’d alienate some of my network.
Real recognizes real and half of making social work for you is being confident in who you are online. You will soon build a following of people that dig your digital persona and that feels much better than building an audience you don’t truly connect with. This means knowing before you hit send, that you stand by that tweet — even if Maggie from HR were to see it.
With that being said, I value every single follower I have. While it may seem small, the simple gesture of mutually following another person opens so many doors. For example, when I see a job or creative opportunity posted by someone in my social network that I’m interested in, I cut through so much corporate crap by hopping into those DMs and expressing my interest.
I know for a fact, that I got my current job because of Twitter. It’s a funny story, but after an interview for a position I was wholly unqualified for, I did some digital digging and followed my interviewer on Twitter. Thanks to his follow back, I was able to stay on his radar — and once again cut through the mountain of work emails he receives and communicate with him on a platform that wasn’t as noisy for him.
Fast forward a couple of months, he had switched companies and was looking to hire a social media manager. THIS was the moment I was waiting for… And all those months he was following and engaging with me online, I had low-key been proving to him how capable I was of handling the position.
Thanks to popping up regularly in his feed, I was one of the first he thought to hit up when the position was posted. Whether or not I got the position after the interview is irrelevant, my foot was in the door because of our social networking.
And having the senior vice president of marketing quote my Twitter bio during our interview… That’s a moment you just don’t forget: A lady in the streets, but a freak in the tweets.