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How your social networking activity can help your job search

We've all heard horror stories about how someone's social networking "presence" has disrupted their chances at landing a job. I would argue that, if used properly, your online identity can actually aid your cause when looking for a new career.

Let's face a couple of facts, first:Blog

1.) Employers can - and will - look you up online. They'll search for your name on Google, then LinkedIn, then Facebook. If you have a Twitter feed, they'll read it. It's well within their rights as an employer to do so.

2.) When we engage in activity on social networks (and the Web in general) we can leave behind permanent digital footprints. In many cases this will be public record - forever.

Look, our social network profiles are new forms of self-expression, so if all your pictures on MySpace involve you running down the street naked after doing a keg stand, chances are an employer won't look too favorably upon that.

That doesn't mean we have to neuter our personalities online. When I was hiring last spring, I looked at the profiles and activity of applicants within social networks to get a better grasp of them as human beings. What do they do for fun, what are they involved in, what are they passionate about, what sorts of pop culture do they absorb, what are their musical tastes, et cetera. These extra tidbits can really round out a personality beyond just a resume. In fact, I almost immediately passed over the ones who had very little social networking activity - due to lack of personality, but mostly because it was highly relevant to the job opening (social media strategist).

You can hang on to those keg stand photos, but take advantage of the robust privacy features within MySpace and Facebook. Feel free to share these photos with your friends - but not the whole world when you're seeking employment.

To sum up, let your social network profiles be a showcase for your personality and passions, and this can be a tremendous asset during the interview process.

Nathan T. Wright

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Comments

I couldn't disagree more.

You can find out these extra tidbits when you interview an individaul over the phone or F2F...to find out if they are a well rounded individual. Much more telling if they can articulate passions to you in person vs a social networking site.

How can you let your social network be a "true" showcase if always in the back of your mind -you are thinking "what would a potential emplyer think about this??"

I'm not talking about "vs." I'm talking about "in addition to." Your social networking presence should accentuate and enhance - not replace.

Nathan - well done. People feel they need to keep themselves hidden because of the thought that it could come back to bite them some day. Just be tasteful and ask yourself if you would want someone you don't know looking at that info or picture? Remember personal branding, if it doesn't go inline with your message or brand, then don't put it online. Like you said previously, Social networking is like filling in the gaps of the conversations, same for the job process. For HIRING MANAGER, looking online for your potential job applicant gives you more information to talk about in the interview and fill in the gaps of a typical interview process where people hold back and don't get too detailed.

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