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4/23/2013
11:00 AM
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5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid

Are you oversharing or undersharing on social networks? Job hunters should understand the social behaviors that may concern potential employers.

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Your presence on social networks plays an increasingly important role in how potential employers see you. What you do and don't do, socially speaking, can be the difference between a job offer and a phone that just won't ring.

When it comes to social business blunders, the cliché is the widely shared photo of a clearly inebriated person, perhaps with a lampshade on his head. That's not good, for sure, but the mistakes we're talking about are more subtle and potentially more damaging to your professional reputation.

Following are five social business blunders that could cost you that new job.

1. Lacking Social Visibility

Not every job requires an active social media presence, but more and more organizations are embracing social as a way to promote their brands, advertise, sell and collaborate. Further, many traditional enterprise applications are integrating social functionality. This means that even if you are looking for a job that doesn't directly involve social (yet), potential employers may take a pass on you if they don't see any social presence or even an inactive social presence.

[ Are you using your best manners on LinkedIn? Read 8 LinkedIn Etiquette Mistakes. ]

Establishing presence on social networks is just the first step. Once you have set down social roots on the networks that are most important to your industry (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are no-brainers, but think beyond that to platforms such as Pinterest and some of the more vertical networks) to start growing your presence. That means updating your status, sharing relevant content, responding to colleagues' (and potential colleagues') updates, and so on.

2. Undersharing

Social media is all about sharing, and it's good social business citizenry to pass along articles, videos, photos and the like that are relevant to your industry and to the people with whom you are connected on social networks. Employers will notice that you know good content when you see it, that you are able to put that content into context, and that you are willing to share that content among colleagues and business partners. You also want to make sure that you are updating your status on a regular basis. Don't let more than a couple of days go between posts (post more frequently if you are in any kind of direct communications role).

3. Oversharing

As I mentioned above, social media is all about sharing -- but there's the kind of sharing you do among business colleagues and the kind you do among your closest friends. It can be difficult to find the right balance when your social contacts are based on a mix of relationships (immediate family members, close friends, current and past professional colleagues, that kid you had a crush on in elementary school, and so on).

The best way to handle this -- especially when you are in the market for a new job -- is to err on the side of caution in terms of what you share and how often you share. Oversharing can mean literally sharing too often -- inundating connections' news feeds with updates to your each and every move. But oversharing can also be the act of providing too much information about a particular topic. When it comes to business, the worst oversharing blunder you can commit would be to post more than you should (or anything at all) about the inner workings of your company and the actions of its employees.

4. Inconsistent Social Personas

As your social presence grows across an increasing number of platforms, make sure you are presenting yourself with consistency. Potential employers will look askance at people whose job titles or job descriptions differ from one social network to the next, or even at people who present a "party-on" presence on Facebook, for example, and a buttoned-down persona on LinkedIn. If it's public, keep it purposeful and predictable.

5. Spelling and Grammar Gaffes

Even in this world of GR8, LOL and BRB, clear and correct communications matters. Ask any hiring manager, and he or she will tell you that the ability to effectively communicate is a key differentiator when assessing job candidates. This includes oral and written communications, which means that any writing you do -- including the writing you do on social networks -- is ripe for scrutiny. Of course, everyone makes an honest mistake now and then, but if your posts are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, you may be putting yourself out of the running very early in the race.

Has social made a difference in your job hunt? In your recruiting activities? Please let us know in the comments section below. Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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Eric Johansson
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Eric Johansson,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2013 | 8:32:15 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
I don't share because:
1) I have nothing to say
2) somebody else said it faster/better than I could
3) I would rather spend time with people in meet space than online.

Back in the heyday of USENET, we had him him him him similar guidelines about being visible. I was a well recognized authority in e-mail, sender pays anti-spam, end-user friendly firewalls.. Got me nothing. it was almost like working a second job keeping up with the USENET traffic and helping people. Just wasn't worth it. I would have been better off meeting with my peers face-to-face and specifically, meeting with people who were not even in the technology field socially and professionally.

Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2013 | 3:19:18 AM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Thanks for your comment, Eric. Isn't depending on face-to-face meetings kind of limiting? I agree that it is work to keep up with communications on social networks--work that some like better than others. I think it officially goes with the territory of being a professional these days, though.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, InformationWeek/The BrainYard
Eric Johansson
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Eric Johansson,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2013 | 1:17:35 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
people forget the old maxim: it's better to be silent and thought a fool than open ones mouth and remove all doubt.

I've been in the field of very long time and it used to be you that recognition by conference presentations but then the quality of presentations went down because people were trying to get presented rather than convey good quality research. Now, people try to get recognition by publishing stuff in social media and as far as I'm concerned, 99.999% of it was better off not said.

Me? I will publish what I have something worth saying. For example I'm working on a set of tools so that disabled programmers using speech recognition can keep working as programmers. I'm also working on a web framework which works with them rather than against them. That's worth publishing. But it's not something I would publish about every week. It's when I have something done and worth showing.

So in the meantime, I will continue to post on Facebook snarky political commentaries found elsewhere, links to amazingly good jpop and sound cloud music, and pictures shaming cute puppies. if the post takes me more than 30 seconds, it doesn't get done and I am way past my limit on this one

Yours in removing all doubt,
--- eric
Deirdre Blake
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Deirdre Blake,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2013 | 3:19:17 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Hey Eric, thanks for sharing ;> And when you're done with that project on programming through speech recognition, contact us at Dr. Dobb's to discuss publicizing it!
Nathaniel Hansen
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Nathaniel Hansen,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2013 | 8:37:31 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Excellent article. Direct, to the point and clear.

AND, let us also not forget that these exact "mistakes" may lead one to a corporate culture best suited to one's personality as well.

Let us take, for example, Undersharing. An entity focused on discreet business, such as a private bank, will value one who undershares, yet has attended the right institutions, academies and has membership in established professional organizations.

Now, on to Oversharing. Although most entities would not want someone to share too much about their activities, they may value the enthusiasm and spunk in a vibrantly social individual. Take an after-school program, for example, where the administrators want a person who is going to have "un-ending" energy to play games, sports, and engage in the infinite banter of adolescence.

Let us look finally at the "party-on" persona in Facebook vs. the buttoned-up appearance in LinkedIn. This juxtaposition is commonly judged in articles about HR and social networks. But nothing could be further from the truth!! The most buttoned-up bankers in London and New York are right away at the pub and bar after work celebrating and chatting. And who would want to work with a lifeless entity whose HR didn't understand that?

To quote the mythologist Joseph Campbell, "Where you stumble, there lies your treasure." One may find both a rewarding culture AND a rewarding career path AND a substantial salary simply by having shown up in the right pub at the right time.

Nathaniel Hansen
President
The Socializers
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2013 | 3:20:54 AM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Thanks for your comments, Nathaniel. You bring some really interesting perspective to the discussion!

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, InformationWeek/The BrainYard
JedediahGoodson
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JedediahGoodson,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2013 | 3:55:11 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
@nathaniel,

Great response to this article. I liked how you added context to the original article. Personally, I want very much to agree with Eric Johannson (who makes a valid point about sharing only when you have something to say). I also can appreciate how people have made it such that we pretty much have to share sometimes as per Deb's article (the reality of being a professional).

My employer does appreciate the fact that I am under-sharing. The field I work in mandates a high responsibilty and at least an appearance of a strong moral compass.

I am certain the peers in my area would reduce their opinion of someone with your average social footprint and all the digital flotsam that accumulates when using all the various services that people use.

Deb mentions how employers may pass you over for under-sharing or inconsistent personas. I would like to share that I was once almost passed up for a persona that wasn't even me. It was simply someone who had my real name and he came up in google-stalking and the potential employer (who was not the hiring decider I later found out) asked me about why I do and said the the things I did. When I pointed out he was referring to a different person than me he was aghast and told me how he lobbied against me based on information he misread. Another potential hazard of social media: mistaken identity.

Regardless of one's opinion on the matter I think we can all agree sharing takes time and that can really add up. I spent over ten minutes writing this so I don't sound like a buffoon - and I may or may not have succeeded in that!
Kristin Rice
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Kristin Rice,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2013 | 2:43:17 AM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
These are great tips for someone like me who is trying to increase my social media presence beyond Facebook and LinkedIn. Thanks for sharing.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2013 | 3:22:09 AM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Thanks for your kind words, Kristin. I'm glad it was helpful to you!

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, InformationWeek/The BrainYard
Kristin Rice
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Kristin Rice,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2013 | 2:43:49 AM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
These are great tips for someone like me who is trying to increase my social media presence beyond Facebook and LinkedIn. Thanks for sharing.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2013 | 12:36:23 AM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Thanks for your comment! I think there is bound to be more intersection of social media moving forward, so the twain will definitely meet!

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
4/27/2013 | 1:35:34 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Have we come that far that prostituting oneself on social networks is as important as having actual skills?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
4/28/2013 | 9:02:51 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
I think that speaks to the above conflict: sharing because you have something to say vs. sharing because there's a company mandate to do so. Social media can be a great when governed by strategy and ethics. I don't think, in principle, it's bad for companies to embrace social; rather, the way some companies do so is bad.

Michael Endler, IW Associate Editor
NJ Mike
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NJ Mike,
User Rank: Strategist
4/29/2013 | 7:24:18 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Why should my company care about my Facebook postings (or lack thereof) unless I'm posting information about the company. I never post work related stuff on Facebook, so why should my employer be concerned. And, as I do it on my own time, they can't dictate that I do.
NJ Mike
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NJ Mike,
User Rank: Strategist
4/29/2013 | 6:02:50 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Did I miss something? Just a few months ago, I was reading about outrage that interviewers were asking job applicants for the Facebook id's and passwords or requesting that they friend the company so they (the company) can see what they (the job applicant) posted on Facebook. Now all of a sudden, nobody has a problem with your employer looking at your Facebook page, and we're being advised how to use these accounts to either advance or, at a minimum, not hurt our careers.
kalakagatha
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kalakagatha,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2013 | 10:07:30 PM
re: 5 Social Blunders Job Hunters Must Avoid
Is there ANY evidence that organizations which emphasize the use of social networks see increased productivity/profitability/ANYTHING positive? I ask this question openly, but I must admit that I am EXTREMELY dubious at the workplace value of Facebook et al. Facebook got its start right as I started college, and it always seemed to me that Facebook's primary use was to distract yourself from getting actual work done or acquiring new skills or knowledge, in other words, the business of college. The work I have done since starting my career has (thankfully) involved absolutely zero social media, so perhaps in the intervening years something useful has come out of it, but again, I remain doubtful. Certainly if I did the hiring for my organization, I would value a candidate's intelligence and competence far more than his or her devotion to spending an hour or two each day cultivating a social network "professional persona".
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