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Presenting a Professional Face with Social Media

by Andrew Bassingthwaighte

As an employment consultant one of the fun parts of my job is to introduce people to this new world called social media and something that I continue to stress is the importance of appearing professional.

Just as we would advise a client to pay attention to how they look when dropping off resumes or going to an interview, the same attention needs to be paid on how they — and we — present ourselves online.

We are aware that employers are actively using social media to look up clients. What people don’t realize is how easy and common it is to make mistakes. Just a few minutes looking at the popular hashtag #resume on Twitter will give you plenty of examples of what not to do.

Another factor is that technology has made it easier for us to make mistakes. Right now from the desktop app that I currently use, I can upload status content to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all with one click. And while this can make it easier to stay up-to-date on the different sites, there is a down side: unfinished or unprofessional content can be shared across these sites with one click.

While assisting clients with their immersion into tweets, blogs, forums and networking sites there are three things I remind them of to make their experience enjoyable and yet maintains a professional appearance in the eyes of any employers they may meet.

Don’t hide behind the computer – Anonymity is an easy trap to fall into, because no one knows who you are, you can say whatever you want. The problem is, you have to come out from the computer at some point and how you act online will be how employers perceive you. Be personable, use your real name, post a (good) picture of yourself and when engaging in discussion with others, be polite.

Present yourself in good light – This involves taking a look at what is currently online about you and taking steps to correct any negatives, for example, negative comments about past employers or those college party photos. Take the time to check your posts for spelling mistakes, clarity and, most importantly, content. Updates about your lunch are not going to interest people; however, articles or comments related to your industry and current projects will.

Take the time to get it right – Building an online reputation / brand takes time for most people, particularly if you are starting out. Rushing can only lead to mistakes. Don’t share work that is incomplete or unedited. Remember the best thing you can do to help build a reputation is to help people. A lot of social media is about networking and leveraging resources, so if you see a tweet that you agree with retweet it, see a question on LinkedIn that is in your field of expertise, post an answer. Let people know that you have the knowledge and experience and take the opportunity to share it.

Andrew Bassingthwaighte has worked for over 10 years in the UK and Canada providing employment counselling, training and mentoring to individuals from different ages, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. He now has the privilege of assisting people as they seek to enter a new stage in their life via Employment Ontario’s Second Career Strategy.

Andrew Bassingthwaighte
I have worked for over 10 years in the UK and Canada providing career and academic advice, training and mentoring to individuals from different ages, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. I am currently working in the Post-Secondary Education field assisting prospective and current students alike in mapping their journey and successfully meeting their goals.

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