Employers: How much of your company’s corporate communication places you in a positive light?
Job Seekers: Are your social media posts a true reflection of your professional and career-oriented capabilities?
Some of you might be thinking that there’s no connection between those two questions, but there is. Companies spend millions of dollars developing branding and Public Relations campaigns, but might be failing miserably in social media. Job seekers might spend several hundred dollars on polishing their CVs and finding the right outfit for interviews, but have a social media presence that undercuts their professionalism where everyone can see it.
Fortune 500 companies have discovered that social media places enormous power in the hands of individuals. Very few have truly grasped that engaging in social media is just as much an exercise in responsibility as it is a branding factor. Companies that receive complaints and do little to engage in addressing them, or react badly to criticism, are basically telling would-be candidates “We’re not really at the top of our game.”
By the same token, candidates whose social media profiles are rife with words and images that make them seem like fraternity or sorority poster children are going to find their call-backs for interviews reduced to less than their potential. In this day and age where finding out what people are like takes minutes rather than days, social media is too easy a source to ignore when deciding on who to hire.
What companies and people tend to forget is that social media is exactly that: social. It’s about connecting to others, about seeing and being seen, about saying something that other people can respond to. Once it’s out there, it’s practically permanent, and when a company ignores a legitimate complaint (let’s face it: almost all complaints on social media seem legitimate) or a potential job candidate posts a picture taken at that awesome kegger last summer, neither party can complain that the resulting negative fallout was unfair. The company could have responded to address the issue or the candidate could have avoided posting the picture.
Social media is best seen as another arena for responsible behavior. If a company wants the best people to say “I’d like to work there,” it needs to treat social media as it does every other level of communication: with deliberate focus and pro-actively. And if the job seeker wants to have more opportunities to work with the best companies, then he or she needs to consciously project a social media presence that speaks well of their abilities, interests, passions and activities.
In neither case does the effort benefit from being fake or phony: that’s a recipe for bad results in the long run. It simply needs to be thoughtful, consistent and a presence that can inspire pride.
By Gil C. Schmidt, Sharpline Contributor
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