This week a headline on CNN grabbed my attention. It read, “Young job-seekers hiding their Facebook pages.”
My first thought was, “That’s pretty stupid!”
My second thought was, “If it’s not stupid, it’s at least naive.”
If you are looking for a job, you already have strong competition from other job seekers. Therefore, you need every available tool to differentiate yourself in a crowded job market. Facebook can be a very effective tool for branding yourself.
The CNN article began with the story of a college student who wanted “to keep his personal life (hidden) from potential employers while applying for summer internships.” I’d like to remind that young person that there is no shortage of people applying for those same internships. So, what sets him apart from all the others? How is he special? How is he differentiated?
The 2.0 world we live in requires authenticity and transparency. Those who are inexperienced in branding themselves naively believe they can present themselves in a one-dimensional way.
People like doing business with people they know, or at least people who present themselves as real-life human beings. A resume or even a LinkedIn profile is usually a sterile, sanitized description of your job title, your responsibilities and perhaps other work-related stuff. Seldom does it portray you as a real, multi-dimensional person.
For any given job opening, you’ll likely be up against dozens of people who look as if they were cast in the same mold as you were. They have similar work histories, job titles and career accomplishments. So what might make you stand out from the rest of the pack? One way is to present yourself as a real person.
Though I’m not in a job search, I want my personal/professional branding to be multi-dimensional. Of course, I want people to know me as a marketing professional. The problem is there are thousands and thousands of other good marketing professionals. So on a deeper level, I also want people to see me as a loving husband, a proud father, a grieving son mourning the sudden death of his beloved mother, an involved community citizen, a committed church member or whatever else might give me common ground with a new friend. Facebook can be an effective way of doing that.
Those who have nothing to hide should embrace the fact that in this 2.0 world there really aren’t any secrets, especially for those interested in effectively branding themselves. Authentic transparency can be a very differentiating attribute.
So here are some questions for anyone looking for a job (and even those like me who are not) — How are you using Facebook to brand yourself, both professionally and personally? Are your Facebook privacy settings set too high? If so, why? Are you hiding something? Okay, that was probably a dumb question, but in a transparent 2.0 world you never want to give the impression that you might be.
Open up. Be real. Be yourself. You’ll find that’s a very liberating, invigorating and differentiating way to go through life. And to find a job.