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.