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Is social media the “must use” tool for everyone?

I have to admit – I feel like I have built a reputation as a social media fanatic in terms of career development and personal branding; I truly love the aspects of social media and the tool that it can be used for in terms of career development, personal branding and reputation creation.  However – it is a tool, let us keep that in mind.  Much like a hammer or pen, the tool can be used to create magnificent works of art, or it can destroy as quickly as it can build.  Used in the correct ways it can be a magnificent benefit – but is social media the “must use” tool for everyone?

In my opinion the answer is fairly simple – no…not yet, but soon it will be.  Some people are unfamiliar with the tool, but some people are just unaware of the fact we can know every/any/all things from a Google search these days.  We are turning into a society that values, collects and stores information, and we are just riddled with ways we are capturing it.  The NSA has recently announced in the US that they are tracking conversations, looking for potential threats.  They need no warrants; they are not forced to let people know they are listening.  Department stores use “data mining” to determine buyer habits with a company by the name of Euclid and tracking your cellphones to see activity – the Huffington Post wrote about it last month.  Apple is another company that is collecting information on you every time you use the famous Siri application – you can even track your friends and family with it.  Apple collects all the data from the questions and answers that come into the Siri program, and keeps it for up to two years – or so they have disclosed in an article here.

Social media is a loose term that captures everything from texting to blogging, conversations in the Internet and presentations in other digital mediums.  It is important to think of what we are using the tools for, and most importantly to think that anything that we put out there has the potential to be read, posted, kept or repeated countless times.  If the content is good, then that is an intended result.  It is a fantastic process to speak of good ideas, share concepts that are constructive, and to become known as a responsible, thoughtful person.  However it can as easily disrupt the flow of reputation, forever branding you as a negative person, as someone who has bad grammar or spelling, or much worse – as an employee at Wendy’s that eats ice cream right out of the tap, or a taco shell licking employee at Taco Bell.  Now ask yourself this – who would EVER hire these workers again?

The question of ethics clearly comes into play here, on several levels and of several people.  Was it ethical for the involved people to:

  1. Perform the action
  2. Take photos of the action
  3. Post the actions onto “social media”
  4. The company then participated in the social media campaign, firing the workers involved and posting that information for public consumption (names were not released)
  5. Share these pictures and stories freely, with the ensuing “viral” campaign creating business hardship because of lousy judgment from a couple teens without enough supervision?

Social media is a public channel full of private information, and truly highlights the old news adage that “if it bleeds, it leads”.

Social media is a great tool to use for brand development, company research, communication, sharing, and creating solutions by crowd sourcing problems.  With social media you can reach out to decision-makers, create a reputation and conversation with leaders in organizations you want to work for, and define the exact need of potential employers to highlight your fit.  You can write a blog, create social justice with new ideas and concepts, fundraise for non-profits and change communities all with this one tool.  It can also destroy careers, annihilate company brands and, even on the case of the Osama Bin Laden raid,  tweet out live details as the raid is actually taking place.

If you are unaware of the potential damage that you can create with social media updates – then it is not a tool for you.  If you are not able to communicate on a regular basis (once a week is fine) – then it is not for you.  If you do not have a strategy of what you are trying to do with social media then it is not for you.  Looking on the surface of it, career counsellors may think that a factory worker had no need of social media.  What other factory workers would be on LinkedIn?  However, there are applications for several different channels that work for all kinds of jobseekers – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have specific applications, and sites such as Huntsy, Monitter, and MyJobSearchBoard can help as well.  You are still able to do company research, find people who previously worked at the organization to determine culture and fit, and seek potential solutions to perceived problems regardless of what work you do.  It is not about the work – it is about the use of the application.

Is social media the “must use” tool for everyone?  If you understand the scope of it, if you can identify your strategy, and realize potential ethical implications of using this very public channel, then yes it can be for you.  It is not for everyone yet – we still need to accomplish some training and decide some social media etiquette – however by learning ethical traps that exist within social media communications for both practitioners and clients, we can at least begin the process of using the tool in a safe way.

Please leave comments below, and let’s keep this conversation going.  Is social media right for you?  Is it right for your clients?  What do you as a career professional begin to tell clients when they ask?  Please come back shortly to read my other upcoming posts about social media and professional disclosure, and another on personal branding.  There are still spots left for the CERIC Summer Social Media Bootcamp where you can learn the subtleties of social media, and we can carry on the conversation of ethical traps.

 

 

Chris Kulbaba photo

Chris Kulbaba is a career development practitioner who is also an author, facilitator, speaker, writer, blogger and social media fanatic.  After 16 years working for the same company in a job that was a terrible personal fit, he then worked through the company closure by co-ordinating an Action Centre that achieved over 94% success in less than 18 months – and then there was no holding him back. Employment counsellors are motivated and impassioned to help everyone put their “best fit forward”, and use several tools to do this – both traditional and digital.  Chris can help you make social media make a difference in your clients” career journeys.  With one of the top 10 LinkedIn networks in Canada, he brings real-world focus into the mysterious world of social media.

 

Chris Kulbaba
A Career Development Practitioner who employs a constructivist approach using a Protean Career model. A specialist using social media for branding and career development, coupled with a values based approach to communications. Always open to network and connect, please feel free to approach at any time for a discussion around career topics of any type.

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10 Comments

  1. Wendy Lau
    June 19, 2013, 10:30 am   / 

    Good article Chris. People should think more about ethical and future implications before they embark on using social media as the “in” thing to do.
    Wendy

    • July 6, 2013, 1:20 pm   / 

      Great point indeed, Wendy.

      “Look before you leap” has never been more appropriate!

  2. June 19, 2013, 2:28 pm   / 

    Great Blog Chris!
    Being a student and learning more about the field of Career Development Practitioner, I can see the growing “need” to learn more about the strategic uses of social media. For myself (as i prepare to graduate), using LinkedIn to bulid my own network in the industry will be a wonderful tool to brand myself and have more exposure in the field. But as you pointed out, I want to use the tools carefully and understand the repercussions of putting myself out there in the wrong way (as were pointed out with the workers at Wendy’s and Taco Bell). As more and more people become accustomed to social media, the need for education such as the Social Media Bootcamp seminar will be that much more prevalent before we start to market ourselves onto the online world.

  3. June 19, 2013, 3:22 pm   / 

    Great comment, Stephen.

    As Career Development Practitioners we need to understand the tools and systems our clients may benefit from. Whether you personally like the tools or not is immaterial, being aware of potential rewards or cautions we can provide clients is crucial. There are several ethical, moral, and professional considerations for using social media, and as Career Professionals we must sit above reproach, and take care to not only engage others, but leave the correct footprint.

    The communication landscape is changing at a fantastic pace, and more and more often we are being measured or evaluated through passive channels. What you say today on Facebook can be discussed in three years at a job interview; that picture you allowed to be shared that someone else thought was funny can be potentially damaging when a client comes in and discusses the fact they have searched you and found these things from your past. Branding is a consistent process, and the old quote “It takes twenty years to become a success, and five minuted to ruin it” has never been more true.

    I enjoy the fact I can read up and enter into discussions with Dr. Jim Bright around Chaos theory, I think it is amazing to interact with the author of the latest textbook I am using for class. Meeting people like Mari Smith online “Facebook Marketing in an hour a day” author, and interacting with people like Viveka Von Rosen (LinkedIn guru) is a boon for me, my career, and of course my clients and peers.

    Do you have a favorite social media focus (topic, channel, tweet chat, etc.)? Please share below!

  4. Helen
    June 24, 2013, 6:11 pm   / 

    Good article Chris, as always we need to stop and think about what we are communicating, why and what the consequence could be. This type of forward -thinking will help ensure long term success and accountability.

    • July 6, 2013, 1:21 pm   / 

      Thanks, Helen.

      It really is imperative we concentrate on communication and not only our intent but the reception of the information. Accountability is crucial, for the tweet you send today can be the thorn in your brand tomorrow.

  5. Elena
    June 26, 2013, 12:49 am   / 

    Hello,

    I was looking for training and I just got here, I wonder where is a career consul in Vancouver?
    Do you have any information about it?
    Please let me know, thank you
    Elena

  6. June 26, 2013, 11:45 pm   / 

    hi Elena,
    If you are looking for training in the area of Career Development check out this group in BC – they offer on line courses. http://www.lifestrategies.ca/

  7. July 6, 2013, 1:25 pm   / 

    The above conversation with a practitioner asking for some directions, and then the community coming to help are prime examples of the beneficial aspects of using Social Media – what a great example of professional use of these tools.

    I am looking forward to more hearty discussions on social media channels, or of course real world conversations.

    Cheers!

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