The Double Edged Sword of Social Media for Your Career

The Double Edged Sword of Social Media for Your Career

Posted on 09. Jun, 2016 by in Careers, Job Seekers, Social Media

When considering your future career prospects, there’s a good case to be made for and against the use of social media. In fact, it should be no surprise to find articles about “How Social Media Can Kill Your Career” and “How Social Media Can Make Your Career.” How do we reconcile the two?

The reality is that both of these messages are true and are worthy of consideration. Your use of social media very well could damage your career. However, your use of social media could make your career as well. The key is how you plan to use social media.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people posting their drunken photos at spring break or some other adult event that made their future employer decide not to hire them. That’s the obvious one, but plenty of other pictures on social media can influence your future employer for good or bad. While it’s illegal, a potential future employer could choose not to hire you based on a wide range of things including political postings, pictures of your family, religious stances, and much more. Like I said, most of this is illegal, but it’s really hard to prove the rationale an employer uses to disqualify you during the hiring process.

Does that mean we should fear posting anything on social media? Of course not, but we should be thoughtful about the impression it makes. Plus, it’s worth considering whether you want to work for someone who discriminates based on some of the things I mentioned above. This piece aside, it’s important to think about what our social media broadcasts say about us. Depending on how you post something, your social media post could be seen as an irrational person that’s hard to work with or someone who’s passionate and committed to their core values.

While there’s certainly a risk in participating in social media, there’s also a tremendous opportunity. Not the least of which is that many employers expect their employees to participate in social media as part of their jobs. That’s not true for all jobs, but it’s true for a lot of them.

Even if your employer doesn’t want you participating in social media, your participation in social media could be the best way for you to get your next job. As one CMO (Chief Medical Officer) recently told me, the best way to find the highest quality jobs is often through the people you know and the people that know you. What is social media? It’s your connection to tens of thousands of people.

What’s great about social media too is that your efforts can scale across thousands of people. You can only go to lunch with people 7 days a week (assuming you’re working weekends too). However, on social media you can connect and be seen by tens of thousands of people every single day. If you’re sharing the right content and insights on your social media feed, then you’re building the best career tool you could ever build.

The key to social media is finding as many ways as possible to share your expertise and knowledge with someone else. Every time you make someone else’s life easier, you’re building up a powerful group of people that want to help you succeed. There’s nothing better you could do for your career. Of course, you can also turn a bunch of people off in the same way if you’re not careful. That’s the double edged sword of social media in your career. Huge potential, but be careful of the risks.

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 5 blogs containing over 11,500 articles with John having written over 5500 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two other companies and advises multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

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2 Responses to “The Double Edged Sword of Social Media for Your Career”

  1. Steve S

    12. Jun, 2016

    I don’t really agree with what you are saying John. To me you’re being a little bit of a Gilligan here straddling both sides of an important topic: being oneself in an oft times polarized world. (‘You got a point there Skipper. You got a point there Professor’)

    Indeed I get the impact that expressing extreme viewpoints can have on your career and employability. There are some things one should be kept to themself. And people also need to be free to be themselves to collaborate effectively. When people feel they must disguise elements of who they are, their contribution to the teams they participate in will be less effective.

    New York Times writer Charles Duhigg has a book titled “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Productivity in Life and Business” where he notes that people “need to feel a sense of what’s known as ‘psychological safety’ to interact effectively — to know they can feel comfortable being themselves without fear of being embarrassed, rejected or punished for speaking up.” He has a passage that reads as follows:

    “No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘psychologically safe’, we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency.”

    This is a big problem is the world: so many people are scared straight about ‘what people may think of them!’
    To be sure, I understand this post targeted at ‘employed people’ and ‘job seekers’ and most employers need to be ‘poltically correct’ to a fault. Rather sad when you think about it.

  2. John Lynn

    14. Jun, 2016

    Interesting take Steve and thanks for sharing. I’m not sure I straddled the middle the way you said. I was counseling that for your career you should be careful what you post on social media. You can and should be yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to post all of those things on social media.

    That said, I often hear people say that because they should be cautious about what they share on social media that means that they shouldn’t post on social media at all. That’s likely why you see me straddling since I think there’s a lot of value in social media if you use it right.

    Your comments about being efficient because you can be yourself is quite interesting. How far should you take that? If you’re a womanizer, should you just be yourself at work?

    What’s interesting is that I filter very little on my social media feed, but I live my life in a way that there’s not much to hide. Plus, the things that some people might say I should hide are things I hold so dear that I want my employer to know about them. The same can’t be said for most people.

    I’ll to think more on whether these 2 personalities is a good or a bad thing. Thanks for starting me to think about it.

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