I was chatting to a senior manager the other day – let’s call her Sally – and she was telling me about a recent job opening she had on her team. Sally advertised, shortlisted and came down to the final three candidates, with one candidate emerging as the frontrunner. We’ll call that candidate Margaret.
Sally told me that she was probably going to offer Margaret the job in the next few days. But then she read Margaret’s personal blog. “I didn’t go searching for it,” Sally clarified. “Margaret had the blog address written on the bottom of her resume. So I read it – and I ended up knowing way more about Margaret than I could have possibly imagined.”
Your life online
Like the fact that Margaret likes to bake. And that she has a sister living in Perth. And that her kids are adorable and seemingly very clever. And she really loves going to art galleries. And about how she sometimes finds it so hard to get out of bed to face her job. And how she swings between anxiety and depression and had to have three weeks off work in her last job just to stay at home and lie in bed. And that she had four months off her previous job because of the same reason.
Sally admitted that reading the blog tempered her enthusiasm to hire Margaret. Now, she wasn’t so sure. Margaret seemed to have all the skills needed for the role. But Sally couldn’t afford to have a team member take three weeks off work any time soon. Or four months for that matter. Sally said she also felt guilty for feeling this: “I have a close friend who suffers from mental health issues and I’m incredibly supportive of of her. I’ve always been behind her lobbying for workplaces to be more understanding of these kinds of situations. And now I’m hesitating myself.”
It’s a tough call. And Sally still hasn’t made a decision.
What would you share?
But it also brings up the question about how much you should share on social media and your blog. Like the lawyer who comes up in my feeds who overshares about her work day on various social media platforms. Would I hire her as a social media manager? In a heartbeat. But would I hire her to look over a legal contract? Not so sure. Why? Because she gives the impression that every second minute is spent sharing her life online instead of actually working for her clients.
The reality is that your online footprint is your personal shopfront to the world. Whether it’s your LinkedIn profile, Instagram pics or blog rants, if you’ve decided that these things are accessible to the public, then you can certainly expect that future employers or managers are going to see them too. And, like it or not, they will draw their own conclusions from what you have to say.
Of course, you might not care about this. And that’s your right. I hear people say “Oh well, that’s just me. People have to accept me the way I am.” Fair enough. In one sense, this “damn the consequences” attitude is admirable. It can also be stupid – depending on what your specific goals are.
I’m not suggesting that you put forward a version of yourself that isn’t true. But I AM suggesting that you consider what you put out there before you hit publish.