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What does your social media profile say about you? - By Gemma Stirrup

Gemma Stirrup

What does your social media profile say about you?

Recently, I saw a joke on Facebook about a girl on a date with a guy who had no social media footprint.  To her horror, he didn’t “exist” on any platform; no twitter, no whatsapp, no  Instagram, no snapchat – and she found her friends questioning if he was a “real” person at all as how could he be if he wasn’t “in” on the virtual conversation. 

It got me thinking about how reliant we are becoming on social media in the world of work to verify a person’s experience or “culture fit” and as individual users if we are even aware of how many people we “invite” as passive observers into our every day “ups” and “downs”. What impact does this have on shaping culture in the work place when we are able to uncover the once “aloof” office authority figure had too many pints at a barbecue at the weekend, is a death metal fan or likes to post boring pictures of their latest meal at regular intervals? 

It’s staggering to think how quickly we have become connected in such a short space of time. With over 1.74 billion users and growing, it’s hard to believe that Facebook for example is just a little over 13 years old!  Arguably pre social media, office and home were once very separate stratospheres.  Today though the boundary between work and home is increasingly eroded with over half of Facebook Users having an average over 200 “friends”;  the odds are that these are made up of friends, ex and current colleagues, relatives and fringe contacts through other connections. 

It’s no surprise that with such market domination that Facebook has been widely critiqued and received extensive international coverage of its shortcomings. Notable issues have been focussed on internet privacy with indefinite records of user information, the like button that unwittingly leads to third party website tracking and of course, its role in the workplace including employer-employee accountability for company (mis)representation.  The fluidity of information is of course part of Facebook’s ultimate appeal – at best, bringing a sense of belonging and greater attachment to the “Group” or at worst, revelling in those posts that scream lack of self-awareness aka the social media car crash.

The latter is part of a challenge that few get right 100% of the time. How can we? With the average user having an eclectic mix of social and work based connections, we are inevitably not going to please all our audience all our time. There will be as many so called friends who will smirk and wince at your “kid anecdotes” as there are those that will high five emoji your wit.

As professionals then surely we are safer in the confines of “The Professional Network” otherwise known as Linkedin.  After all, our LinkedIn blueprint is published in a much more controlled fashion– we all carefully curate and craft our profiles to give outstanding recommendations, the latest up to date information on our responsibilities, interests that “upsell” our exceptional employee qualities, don’t we?

 I’ve had countless conversations with candidates over the years about how they created a LinkedIn profile once but don’t use it now as they a) don’t like networking b) don’t want their boss to know they are on  c) don’t know how to use it and create a better profile.  The problem is that just because you don’t use it anymore it doesn’t mean that you suddenly become invisible to passing traffic.  Your Linkedin profile is the first thing a potential employer will visit alongside reviewing your CV particularly as more and more employers are turning to “passive” candidate attraction due to active candidate shortages.

 

 

Sure, you might not have given them the okay or invited them to stop by your profile but from the moment they clicked on your profile picture they were assessing your “fit” and looking for inconsistencies between your profile and CV.

That said, I’d like to think that many employers are prepared to dig a little bit deeper and whilst helpful, will overlook snap judgement assumptions derived from someone’s personal profile.  If someone has accidentally started their summary with a “typo” on LinkedIn it doesn’t necessarily make them semi-literate or if they have an online CV summary that lists job titles only that they haven’t achieved much in each role.  Just as one comment doesn’t define the individual’s world view; social media referencing should be used as an affirmation of what has already been learned with a pinch of salt for good measure.

 But best get reviewing your public profile just in case!