It is hard to believe that this is already a tired phrase but, social media has reinvented the way we live our lives and the way in which we interact. For those who still believe our social media lives can be completely separated from our professional lives are sorely mistaken. Social media hubs such as Twitter and Facebook are now aspects of our lives that we cannot erase. And this is important. All too often, people discuss social media and its influence in the professional realm in a negative way. There are an endless amount of articles out there discussing the negative impacts social media can have on an individual's professional life. While these articles are founded in legitimate concerns, there are plenty of positives involved with social media for job hopefuls that go ignored.
The fact is, the reason there is so much criticism of social media within the professional world is because there are a lot of negatives.
It's impossible to discuss the benefits social media knowledge might offer during your job search without first discussing these negatives. Obviously (and I almost feel silly saying this) if your Facebook or Twitter account only features you inebriated and partying, your social media experience is not going to be a selling point within a competitive job market. This is not to say that you absolutely must delete any picture that features you in a not so professional light. Instead, be aware of your privacy settings. If you are not planning to use social media knowledge as a selling point during an interview, then set up your Facebook so your name is unsearchable. This way employers cannot look you up and possibly get the wrong impression of you. If you do hope to use social media experience as a selling point during an interview or on your resume, then it is wise to erase any photos or comments that might portray you in a particularly negative light.
For the most part, I feel that common knowledge about what you make accessible on the internet is key. You shouldn't display something to the world if you do not feel completely comfortable or confident with it. While many of the negative aspects social media might have in an individual's job search are well known, many of the positives social media offers are not so obvious. Social media represents the way in which we communicate with one another today. Individuals who are comfortable with this form of interaction will have a leg up in several aspects of the professional world. Twitter and Facebook limit our communication to 140 characters, forcing individuals to be brief and concise. This is a quality that is highly valued in most business and professional interactions. Furthermore, individuals who are experienced with social media are comfortable with the speed of the internet. Social media trains us to be quick and to multitask.
The fact of the matter is, with time social media experience will become the norm on resumes and cover letters. While not all positions available in the job market warrant social media knowledge, many do. Positions in public relations and marketing are (or will soon be) heavily interconnected with social media and social networking. Make your social networking experience work to your advantage during your job search. Find aspects of the position that relate to this new form of communication and sell them.