As a recent college graduate, navigating my way through the business world, I had been worrying about how my social profiles might affect my chances of landing a new job. Facebook and Twitter were my main streams of communication, but with employers investigating facebook and twitter accounts, I find myself with the new challenge of separating my professional life from my social one. This is a topic that often arises when grassing at the local bar with acquaintances that have parallel feelings.
At a recent gathering of “the minds” a buddy of mine explained to the faction why he didn’t receive a job offer from a particular top financial firm; his facebook page tainted his chances of becoming an elite equities trader. Again, this is a very controversial topic of discussion; especially due to recent invasion of privacy complaints raised against some internet giants (i.e. facebook, Google, and MySpace just to name a few).
The next day, Friday, I enter work with my mind still wrapping itself around the idea of employers searching through my social media accounts. I needed to dive in to this topic with my boss (Randi Brawley); I know she would shoot me straight on the topic. As I sit at the table, cluttered with newly acquired projects, I pretend to start my work, but I was truly lurking until I found the proper time to approach her with my query.
I like the table because it gives the work area an honest feeling, so it would be the perfect platform to indulge. I smelt first blood when she asked about the status of a few clients’ facebook pages that I was updating. After answering her question I asked,” Hey, did you know that some employers search through employees’ facebook and twitter pages? What do you think about that?” She sequenced her eyes over her glasses and attacks head on, what I thought was food for thought was actually a tricky subject for her (and employers like her). Randi explains to me how difficult it is to hire the right person and so on and that she has looked through my social networking pages. Having a college aged son, she brushes off the pictures of solo cups and party hugs as part of the internet generation that keeps her work thriving, but she warns that serious corporate employers may not be so tolerant. She also makes a great point in saying that people in her position have to also be careful about what they put on their social media pages. Employees or clients may look them up as well. Evidently the issue of separating social life and professional life applies to employers as well.
As that conversation dies down she sends me an e-mail about Google+ and asks me to do some research on the new social media platform. I didn’t initially understand the point but as I carefully read through the numerous reviews, articles, and blogs, on the subject I realize that Google is on to something. What she was showing me is that Google+ is trying to solve the problem of separating one’s social life and professional life with “Circles.” Google+ has combined sharing and exclusivity of different circles; you can share posts, photos, articles, talk, and more with everyone or just a particular circle (business contacts, friends, family, etc). So, you aren’t exactly hiding from your employer but you are keeping things professional and responsible and not embarrassing them or yourself.
I know it took me a bit of time to get to a certain aspect of Google+ but it just might be the new western frontier for me – a “grown up” facebook of sorts. And the circles aspect alone has gotten my attention and my willingness to explore this option. I am currently in the process of setting up an account ant navigating my way through this new platform. So far, it has been a pretty straight forward process; Google+ isn’t a difficult social networking platform to operate. I will share more of my experiences in the new land soon. Stay tuned.
Written by: Raymond Allen