When I started this blog, with my real name and occupational information prominently displayed, I received quite a few concerned comments from friends, family, and colleagues. In general their issues boiled down to this: why expose yourself to this? Why put yourself out there, increasing the risk of someone using the information you have out there against you in the future?
My answer has been and still is because I feel the potential payoff is greater than the potential risk. I wrote about it before, but I felt the topic was worth revisiting after reading this press release from CareerBuilder:
Twenty-two percent of hiring managers said they use social networking sites to research job candidates …. An additional 9 percent said they don’t currently … but plan to start.
Of those hiring managers … one-third (34 percent) reported they found content that caused them to dismiss the candidate from consideration….
Twenty-four percent of hiring managers who researched job candidates via social networking sites said they found content that helped to solidify their decision to hire the candidate.
So, someone who wants to hire me in the future (or build any other kind of business relationship with me) is fairly likely to do some digging on me, onlne. About a third of them will be doing it soon, and I can’t imagine it will take long for that number to increase, especially in my field.
Now, while about a third of the people doing that digging found something that made them decide not to hire someone, a quarter found something that helped them decide to hire someone.
I’ve done a little bit of hiring. I’ve seen resumes that made me decide not to interview someone, and resumes that brought someone otherwise on the bubble in for an interview. Would I counsel someone to not make a resume, or to make their resume as bland as possible, to avoid the risk that the resume would preclude you from getting an interview?
Of course not. You’d miss out on the chance to really impress someone.
Like your resume, your social media image is a tool at your disposal. As my colleague Dan Schwabel would put it, it’s part of your brand.
I happen to believe I have more ability to positively influence my own brand through action than through inaction. I’d rather someone searching for my name on Google see this blog, which I control every post on, as their first result than something written by someone else about me. I’d rather they see a Twitter feed where I communicate with my colleagues and show some personality and life, than a simple page with “updates protected.” I’d rather they find my Facebook and realize I have an active life with hobbies and interests that I’m comfortable talking about, as opposed to a page which shows nothing and makes them wonder what’s going on behind the curtain.
I’d rather have a chance to be part of that 24% that was impressed by what they found.