Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Using social media as job search and career development business analysis resources 9: thinking through the messages that you convey about yourself and that others share about you

This is my ninth installment to a series on the points of intersection between business intelligence and its gathering, and social media and related interactive online channels as sources of actionable information and insight, as they can be applied to job search and career development (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 397 and following for Parts 1-8.)

I began this series from a perspective that would be less likely to come to mind, at least immediately for most readers: how you can learn online about businesses that you might work for or that you already work at, and with that research including your tapping into social media as sources of insight. In my experience at least, when the conversation turns to what can be learned in a business context from social media, people tend to think about what their social media footprints say about them. So I wrote the first eight postings to this series with a focus on how business intelligence gathered from this wider sweep of sources can help bring you a combination of:

• Planned and intentionally marketed messages from and about business organizations of interest to you
• And more open and candid insights as well, and both as to where those businesses are now, and where they are going.

I begin to flip this entire discussion around here, to consider what hiring managers and their Human Resources associates and others can learn about you from online and social media sources too.

• And that trove of readily available online information includes both what you intentionally and carefully craft and post online as part of your ongoing jobs and careers efforts,
• And what you say about yourself outside of that, and perhaps more openly and candidly too,
• And what others say and share about you in both of these arenas.

I began this series with a goal of least opening a door as to the depth and diversity of what is available online for enabling a fuller business analysis. And I wrote in the course of that eight part discussion, about how social media sources can provide new types of insight and understanding that could never be matched from any other more traditional sources, online or off. So I begin this portion of this series by noting that those same observations about researching businesses online, apply with equal strength when those businesses are researching us too, and particularly when their online search and review process includes garnering what social media says about us. Businesses and their gatekeepers can gain a significant and wide-ranging level of insight about us: about you, just as we: you can so learn about them. And for their online and social media research, that means gathering information about you both as a potential hire and as a current employee, and levels and types of such information that would never have been possible pre-social media. So all of this cuts both ways – and all of this opens doors both ways.

• I am going to begin this second side of this larger series-long discussion with intentional and planned messages, and with intentionally jobs and careers oriented social media content that we offer about ourselves, as for example when preparing and posting a business social networking site profile about ourselves.
• Then I will discuss what others share about us in an intentionally professional context, as for example when people we have worked with share online recommendations for us through our online networking site professional profiles.
• And then after that, I will write about more open and less considered material that we post about ourselves, as for example on sites such as Facebook that blur the line between work and private lives.
• And I will delve into the issues of what others put online about us in these forums too, and often in synch with what we post there too.
• Of necessity, these points of discussion need to be matched with a discussion of accuracy and of dealing with damaging material that shows about us online, and material that at the very least could be deleteriously misinterpreted. This is an area of discussion that many would likely see as holding the greatest potential significance here, and particularly as so many people post so much about so many others and in so many circumstances and for so many reasons – many of which are only briefly considered for their potential impact if they are really thought through for that at all.
• And as a part of all of this, I will discuss how ubiquitously connected and interactively online, all of the time means an inevitable blurring between our professional work lives and our private lives, and a blurring of the messages that we share about ourselves and of what others say about us across those contexts too.

As a final point in this series installment, I note that we are all increasingly online and all of the time, and in ways that can and do impact upon everything that we do and even just consider doing. I recently wrote about the importance (and ease) of researching the people who we would seek recommendations from – because anyone we would have them send to, is certain to look up the people who provide them and find out about their backgrounds and reputations too (see Knowing Your Potential Recommendation Sources’ Online Reputations and Selecting Them to Meet Your Specific Needs.) People look up other people all of the time and for seemingly every conceivable reason. If, to pick a more social and private-life example, you are single, you would most likely look up a potential blind date online to find out more about them before meeting them face to face now, and parents are very likely to do at least a quick due diligence online search about anyone they hear of who their son or daughter is getting seriously involved with too. We look up and read about other people for due diligence reasons and simply to address our curiosity. We are all coming to take this type of looking for granted – and we have to assume that the people who we might work for and those we work for already, do this too. So I turn to this increasingly common and routine activity here in its complexities, as this more general phenomenon applies in a jobs and careers setting. And I will begin that flow of discussion in my next installment, beginning with the first of my to-address bullet points as listed above: reconsidering the intentionally jobs and careers oriented social media content that we offer about ourselves.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. And you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its continuation page too.

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