Saturday, January 31, 2009

Are You Sabotaging Your Career?

If you could foretell the future, you'd know if you'll be staying in your present job or looking for another one down the road. Or maybe you don't have to be a psychic because almost everyone will be in the job market at one time or another. When that happens, will your online presence sabotage your career move?

Do you have friends on Facebook? Are you Twittering with your Tweeps? Are you connecting on LinkedIn? Have you made MySpace your space? Do you bare your thoughts on your blog? These (and other) social networking sites usually allow you to post as much information about yourself as you like...your education, work history, favorite music and books, political leanings, and religious preferences. You can upload pictures, post videos, join groups and causes and become a fan of many. There are also 'status updates' that offer information about how you're feeling right this moment.

You are, in essence, dropping clues right and left about yourself and you may be offering too much information. Many companies (that includes law firms) now use social networking sites to screen prospective hires. They may also use them to check on the behavior of current employees. A simple entry of a name in the Google search box can reveal all kinds of information...some of it may be embarrassing.

Social Networking isn't just about you. You really have little control over who sees your information. Your contacts have access to it. Their contacts have access. Those contacts have access. You can see how the web widens.

How much should you reveal about yourself? That's the $64,000 question and depends on your circumstances. It would be best to err on the side of caution. It's probably not good to post the picture of you dancing on a table at Senor Frog's in Cancun. Does a recruiter need to know that you are 32, single, Catholic, have a mad crush on Hugh Jackman and would throw your Jimmy Choos at a political candidate if given a chance? Probably not! You might also want to refrain from commenting about your boss and co-workers.

There are other things that are probably best kept to yourself:
  • Medical information
  • Plans to quit your current job
  • Your love life/sexual preferences
  • Politics and religion
  • Salary/financial information
  • Gossip
  • Racially charged jokes and profanity
  • Confidential work information

You might give this some thought: Remember the last time you had a conversation with someone, perhaps a friend, family member or maybe a total stranger...and you found the conversation going south when you were given way too much information? Perhaps you learned more than you needed to know about the person's financial situation, their marital problems, or their last surgery. Your view of the person was changed forever. The same thing can happen when you reveal too much information online but you may not even know whose opinion you have influenced.

Your online presence is a virtual resume. Craft your profile very carefully so you reveal only positive information. Don't use a screen name that gives a poor impression. Don't post pictures or videos you wouldn't want your mother to see. Delete any photos your friends might post that show you drinking and partying. If any off-color comments are associated with your posts, delete them immediately. Choose your Facebook friends and followers on Twitter wisely. You don't have to accept every request.

Your challenge: Do continue to enjoy your social networking. It's a great way to connect with friends and colleagues. It's a fabulous networking tool. Just remember to exercise caution so that your social networking presence will make you the person everyone will want to hire.

© 2009 Vicki Voisin, Inc.

Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, e-zine or website? You can, so long as you include this entire blurb with it: Vicki Voisin, also known as The Paralegal Mentor, publishes the bi-weekly ezine 'Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence' where she offers tips for paralegals and others who want to create lasting success in their personal and professional lives. Get tips and information at no cost at

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