Who’s watching you? How to be aware of your online presence

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In a world where image is everything, more and more employers are looking at social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in order to get the low-down on potential employees.

On Oct. 17, Heather Campbell, Communications Officer at UNBSJ provided an informative session on how to maintain your social media presence. The “Who’s watching you?” presentation was just one of the many useful information sessions offered as part of the Graduation Prep Series.

There is no question that social media plays a major role in shaping how we conduct our lives. Everything that we do in the run of a day can easily be traced through our tweets, photos and wall posts. 87 per cent of companies have a social media presence and are constantly connected to various websites such as Job Bank, Career Beacon and LinkedIn. Aside from these statistics, university students are currently facing the biggest unemployment issue in the last 50 years.

As the search for a career becomes more difficult, it is important to establish your “brand” on the web. Your brand is the image that you want to convey to the public. It is not just who you are, but who you want to be. In order to develop your brand it is important that your display picture represents what you want employers to see. Employers are quickly turned off by photos that might indicate that you are irresponsible or merely a party animal. You want to set yourself apart from other job seekers and be choosy on what types of social media you want to use. It is important to know that you don’t have to be connected to ALL of the social media sites, but just put your time and effort into establishing a few.

Building your brand is not going to happen overnight. You need to start by understanding that everything you post (or someone else posts) is going to be seen by someone online. It is important to take control of your persona and realize that things can often be misinterpreted on the web. When setting up your profile you should use an email that you are going to check out regularly and have an easy username to recognize.

You should also include where you live, let people know you are looking for a job, list your qualifications and keep the information up to date. Some important things to avoid when trying to develop your social media presence, is being too pushy. Sh*t does not look very professional so be sure not to swear.. Even with an asterisk. Remember that everything is public and that your brand doesn’t just provide facts , but perceptions as well.

One of the most popular social media sites for growing professionals is LinkedIn. It currently has 36 million members in over 200 countries. A LinkedIn profile allows you to build your virtual resume and connect with people that you’ve worked with or would like to work with in the future. There are jobs posted to LinkedIn and many employers look there for employees.

Twitter is used for shorter, more concise posts and the expectation of response time is immediate. Twitter is a great way to gather information, but it is important to make ensure that your tweets are not perceived as rude or abrupt.

Finally, the infamous Facebook. It’s important to remember that nothing on Facebook is private even if you think it may be (try “Googling” yourself, it can be scary!). Facebook is also famous for its domino effect where even people that are not your friends can see comments and updates.

Next time you find yourself frantically tweeting or Facebooking about the drama in your lives, be sure to filter your thoughts because you just don’t know who’s watching you!