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Friday Philosophy – How Much does Social Media Impact your Career for Real? February 6, 2015

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging, Friday Philosophy, humour, Perceptions.
Tags: , , ,

Does what you tweet impact your chances of getting that next interview?
Do people check out your Facebook pictures before making you a job offer?
Does my Blog actually have any impact on my career?

We’ve all heard horror stories about people losing their job as a result of a putting something “very unfortunate” on their facebook page, like how they were on holiday/at a sports event when their employer was under the illusion they were off sick, or the more obvious {and pretty stupid} act of denigrating their boss or employer. But how much does general, day-to-day social media impact your career? {“Your” as in you people who come by this blog, mostly professionals in IT. I know it will be different for people trying to get a job in media or….social media 🙂 }.

Two things recently have made me wonder about this:

  • The first is that I’ve been in or watched a few discussions recently (via social media!) where people are suggesting that their social media output is part of who they are seen as professionally and they make efforts to ensure they give the right impression, or have even sought professional help to improve their social media standing in respect of employment.
  • The second is that I recently was involved in some hiring and I never even thought to look at their social media. Maybe that is just because I’m over {picks an age} 30 and social media is not a massive thing to me. Most of my hiring experience was before the likes of Facebook and though I would check out a blog if it was mentioned on a CV, I would not have thought to check them out.

When I initially thought about that second point I assumed that most people hiring in the world of IT are similarly a bit ancient like myself and maybe not that attuned to social media. But perhaps I am wrong as it’s people similar to me out there on Twitter who have been worrying about such things. Maybe social media is considered by potential employees than I think? I’d like to know what anyone else thinks.

I should add that I don’t see all Social Media as the same when it comes to it’s impact on your career. I think their is Friends Social and Business Social. Something like LinkedIn is aimed fair and square at business and professional activity and is Business Social. You would really expect it to be looked at and, in fact, most people who use it would hope it is! {Mine isn’t, I get about 3 or 4 views a week and only once, 5 or 6 years ago, was I approached via it for a work opportunity}. If you blog about a work topic or tweet as an expert in your field (so your tweets are mostly about your day job, not just the odd reference) and especially if you are doing either under a company banner then, yes, I’d expect that to be taken into account when prospective employment comes up.

Social Media is most people’s twittering, personal Facebook, private blogs, Pinterest and all those dozens of things I know nothing about as I am too old and too antisocial. Do these really have much impact on your career?

I would suggest not, again for two reasons:

  • I don’t think most employers are going to look at your Friends Social Media until they have at least interviewed you, as when you are hiring you barely have enough time to check over the CV’s, let alone research each candidate’s personal history. Once you have interviewed them, then they have become a real person rather than a name and if you do check out their Friends Social Media then you will look at it in light of them being a human being, which is point 2:
  • Unless you are saying things that would make anyone think you are a bit odd or unpleasant, I can’t see that discussions of football, insulting your friends, making double entendra comments or (one of my favorites) pointless drivel about your cat is going to make anyone who you would want to work for worry about you. Some people might put up things that could be offensive to others – but then, if you really do think immigrants are ruining the UK, we are not going to get on so working together is a mistake for both of us. So maybe even stating your strongly held opinions is long-term beneficial as well. Some people take my strong dislike of children as a real reason to not like me very much. Best we don’t spend 8 hours a day, five days a week together. You’ll only bang on about your bloody kids.

What I think is a shame is that I suspect some people {many people?} self-censor themselves on all Social Media due to a concern to always be seen as professional. As good worker material. We all know that almost everyone we work with have unprofessional moments and, in fact, those few who are professional all the time tend to be… staggeringly dull.

So maybe being mindful of your professional standing is totally correct on Business Social Media but a bit of a shame if you let it impact your Friends Social Media.

But remember, on all social media there are limits. There are some things about you, Dave, that you should simply not share. Or at least, only at the pub when we are all too drunk to care.


1. Debra Lilley - February 6, 2015

Great post, and a lot of content for Friday. I think part of the issue is that there are no rules about Social Media, so whilst one organisation may not care another might.

More importantly for me, is personal rules. I have my own, I think Linkedin is business, I think Twitter and my OracleThoughts blog are about my ‘Oraclesphere’ brand and Facebook is personal. I had more friend requests on Facebook pending than actual friends as I hate to say no, but my rule for Facebook is ‘would i invite this person into my house?’.

That is my rule set and I try and stick to them, and try to stay fun but professional on twitter, but especially during events it is just so easy to enter a discussion that is less so. They aren’t bad just possibly not quite what I want. on my blog where there are more words so I am less worried as I have a better chance to explain. A great example is my ever growing Oracle family, I have blogged about it and that is fun, it is part of who I am and I’m not ashamed but sometimes a tweet appears and I get customers and colleagues asking me questions (and it doesn’t help that my boss is called Tim, that confuses them even more).

So I guess I am saying if you use social media, user beware, and we can always opt out altogether, but wish there was a cat story opt out 🙂

mwidlake - February 7, 2015

Thanks Debra. I think you make a good point about the lack of rules for social media and then partly answer that point – I think we do mean to be mindful of the type of social media and what we are using it for and I like your rule for Facebook – a friend is someone you would invite into your house.

I try for a broad rule with my social media – My aim is to not go beyond having a conversation with people face to face. That’s partly why I don’t do anonymous or obfuscated posting as it seems to me that when people can hide they get more unpleasant. I think partly why people driving cars can be so bl00dy unpleasant is that they are anonymous. How you drive your car is your true character.

Having said that, I still overstep the mark (as I do occasionally in face-to-face). I like to think I apologise when I do.

2. jgarry - February 6, 2015

I don’t think we know yet the influence junior level HR people will have on us old fogey’s misinterpreted social posts. And don’t forget, some people revel in anonymity – there could be cases of HR people not finding social about a prospective hire, and making unfounded conclusions about that. There was also some kerfluffel in the US not long ago regarding some jobs demanding passwords to personal social accounts (and much more can be found googling).

Until I complained, a search on Facebook for my name would bring up someone who’s first and middle name were the same as my first and last, but with a different last name. It may still happen, I’m not on there much. I’m not anywhere near as good looking as that gay porn guy.

3. Pete - February 6, 2015

Good post Martin, as always. We’re seeing more and more people being influenced by blogs and social and shared media than ever before. In most cases, for the positive. I suspect that the trend will continue. Afterall, I know many who enjoy jobs today due to their involvement in open source projects and their github involvement as much as their cv’s themselves.

So the future is both ever changing and interesting. As these areas continue to develop I suspect that we’ll be seeing more emplyers etc taking advantage of the data that is out there, whatever the format or source.

4. kelloggsville - February 6, 2015

I could write an extended comment but really Debra wrote my thoughts, except she’s winning at it whereas, you know I am prone to fail occasionally and try to have a ‘clean up’ afterwards – anyway what I am trying to say is:

30! 30?!


(see what I mean about not always managing the professional face – Debra probably thought “30?!” but didn’t say it!!)

mwidlake - February 7, 2015

I’ve always been a bit contrary, but I’d sure as heck prefer to hire someone like you than someone who never shows much humour.

5. jgarry - February 6, 2015

Ah, post 57 is where I mentioned I thought social media research is becoming mainstream.

mwidlake - February 7, 2015

Thanks for that Joel. I linked through to this nice post by Kyle Hailey – http://datavirtualizer.com/5-ways-to-boost-your-career-with-social-media/
He takes a very different stance to myself and has obviously gained a lot through social media, so I could be plain wrong!

6. Long suffering wife - February 7, 2015

Your use of social media is really quite useful… How else would I know about the red wine on the carpet, and the ‘shrinking trousers’… Not sure you realise the nefarious tactics auditors go to to check out potential new hires, and partners… Shame there wasn’t social media in 1993….

mwidlake - February 7, 2015

Oh no. I am in so much trouble….

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