Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wanted: Social Media-Savvy Communicators

With graduation nearing for many of my classmates and me, a lot of class discussion has been devoted to questions about careers. One major concern I've noticed is students' fear that potential employers are closely screening their Web presence when considering them as new hires. When I created the Media Socialites Facebook group for my new media class, a common worry among my classmates was how their privacy settings would be affected. I even learned some have created additional Facebook profiles solely targeted to employers.

Although I understand and respect my classmates' apprehension due to the super transparency of the Web, I also don't see the necessity to take it to the extreme.
And while I'm sure advice ranges from industry to industry, I'd like to direct this post to all those communication majors out there.

From what I've experienced, potential communication employers actually champion, not frown upon, your Web presence. As communicators in a rapidly changing industry, knowledge of, participation in and passion for new media is considered an asset, not a handicap.
Just as I would be wary of a PR firm not offering services in social media, as an employer, I'd be wary of an applicant who doesn't show interest in it.

Personally, I think that as a soon-to-be grad vying for a career in public relations, showcasing my social media savviness has helped set me apart as one of those "not like the others" applicants. Having practically grown up with the evolution of the Internet, we certainly have a leg up on older generations of PR professionals who haven't. Why not exploit that?

However, be careful. Like I said, the Web is transparent, and you should fully understand this. Here are a few of my personal guidelines for releasing content onto the Web:

  • That said, don't post anything you wouldn't want everyone to read/view/watch/listen to: You mention in your fb profile you hate your CM561 course, so you put your professor on your limited profile list. Bad idea. Word will get out, even if you can't perceive how; you're better off keeping your hatred of the class to yourself. This may mean taking some time to scan and edit your existing Web presence - perhaps that self-deprecating picture you posted isn't very appropriate for the world to see either.
  • Be yourself: Don't make up fake personas you think would appeal to employers. It's kind of akin to lying on your resume about your experience. What happens when you show up to an interview and you're nothing like your contrived Facebook profile says you are?
Transparency shouldn't be an issue if you have nothing to hide. For those students with something to hide, why would you be parading that information on the Web anyway?

My advice? Use your Web presence to teach others and employers about you - your passions, your skills, your utter coolness. Employers aren't just looking for someone with an adequate resume - they're looking for someone who has a personality that fits with their company as well.

Social media is humanizing public relations -
help it humanize your job search, too.

Readers: I'd love to know more about your personal considerations when it comes to online posting. Feel free to add!


brewnette said...

Great post, Pam! It's nice to read that other people are thinking about transparency on the web as it relates to getting a job. I especially liked the end bit about humanizing the whole process. Have a good break!

Yianni Garcia said...

Awesome post. I can't believe BU COM kids are starting Facebook profiles just for prospective employers. That is just lame. If I were hiring someone straight out of college with a Facebook profile with 20 friends and not ONE drunk picture I would think they were incredibly dull, soul-less, awkward, unfriendly, and all sorts of other things before I would think about their professionalism.

My take: be yourself and voice your passions. That what social media is for. And for the pictures involving nudity, sexual acts, illegal substance, or anything that would make you undesirable to employers...You can always do privacy settings.