Career Survival Skills: Social Media and the Other You
by Michael Mayher

Many people display a different persona, depending on the environment we are in or with whom we are associating at that moment in time, whether privately or publicly /professionally. That separation is normal and more important in the modern era in which we live; as a result of social media and potential over-exposure of our private lives.

In our youth we don’t pay much attention to these things and young people are currently oblivious about what they do now, which can adversely impact their lives and careers later. I was no different many years ago and even if I wasn’t intentionally seeking attention, I just plain didn’t care if anyone saw, approved or disapproved. After all, back then I, like most of us, thought we were bullet-proof and invisible and nothing could touch us and, if it did, nothing would stick; such is the mindset of youth. But that was before the rise of social media, before there was Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and countless other means of getting in peoples’ faces to document most of our stunts and youthful indiscretions.

I feel sorry for young people today, who, reflexively and as a matter of course put everything about their lives out there for the world to see, or, a friend will do it for them with or without their knowledge. Consequently, once it’s out, there’s no taking it back. This matters little in the minds of most but some things can have a detrimental impact later in one’s career.

As a headhunter, I have watched this trend of people intentionally sharing their private lives, as they fail to consider who might be looking for and at them. I’ve witnessed people have an opportunity they really wanted, only to be snatched away from them after someone conducted a cursory background check. Not because of a drug test, not because of a criminal records check and not even the result of bad professional reference, no. But as a result of a simple check of Google; checking online profiles on Facebook and Twitter is enough to sink a person’s chances and makes assumptions about someone they don’t even know. However, much could be avoided by simply applying available online filters to somewhat close the voyeuristic window into one’s private life. What is shared with friends and family is not always to be viewed in the same context by those who don’t know you. I’ve seen people lose the job of their dreams for something that most would consider minor and trivial, even forgotten. Yes, everyone has the right to do what they choose; we all have the option to make mistakes. But nowadays, those small indiscretions are logged and archived somewhere.

About the Author: Michael Mayher has been an international direct search recruiter on two continents for over 22 years. A consultant, published author, lecturer and blogger, he re-introduces professionals to critical Soft Skills lost in our digital age and necessary to effectively navigate their careers. You can find more information by visiting his blog and website.)

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