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Social Networking Websites and Your Career

Kareen Cox

Kareen Cox
Career writer

Facebook! Twitter! Myspace! These are just some of the popular social networking websites that have captured the imagination of millions of persons all around the world. In recent years, social networking websites have grown in popularity to become the preferred method of meeting new friends and keeping in contact with old ones. Facebook alone reports that they have more than 250 million active users worldwide.

Many persons tend to view their social networking account as a leisure activity or hobby that has no direct link to their jobs or careers. The reality is, however, that social media has become the latest job seeking and recruitment tool. Unfortunately, this means that it has also become the latest way for people to get reprimanded or embarrassed at work, or worse, fired. Today, many employers especially those overseas, use the internet, especially Google, to research potential or current employees.

Even after you are employed, your social networking profile can be your downfall. Many careers have ended due to people updating their Facebook status for example, during work hours, or having boasted on Twitter how they’ve taken a false sick day from work and are not aware that their boss can see their profile.

When creating your profile on your chosen website (s), be careful to eliminate any information or photos that any employer, future or current, could use against you. Limiting your profile to only friends or those in your network won’t necessarily solve the problem, as you simply cannot tell if your boss is friends with or even related to someone in your network. The following is a list of things to avoid:
· Be careful what you say in a social network. Even a silly statement uttered as a joke can backfire on you if a potential boss fails to see the humor.
· Avoid writing about your company. Steer away from discussing your boss or job on the Internet, as complaining about your employer can have grave consequences, both for present and future employment.
· Do not post questionable photos online that would cause any kind of embarrassment. If you know you skipped work in order to attend a party, do not post the pictures online.
What you can do instead, is include information that can help you in your job quest. Popular UK website, puts forward the following tips:
· Many of these websites ask for information on your career history, qualifications, etc. Do not take an informal approach in selling your skills. Instead, do the full sales pitch in your profile and use lots of key words relevant to your role or industry, as this is how recruiters will search for suitable candidates. If possible, post your resume or a DVD clip with highlighted achievements or sample work.
· Where possible, include a link to a personal website page if you have one so that people can find out more about your work and what you do.
· Add a good quality, business-orientated photograph to your profile and avoid casual photos which can send out the wrong message.
No one is saying that your personal profile page on Facebook or Myspace shouldn’t remain your personal playground, but remember that nothing on the internet is private anymore, so be careful what you post. It just may come back to haunt you when you go to apply for your dream job.

*Kareen Cox is the Resources Coordinator in the Career Development Services Department, HEART Trust/NTA. Email, or

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