Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How Social Media Can Help or Harm Your Career

By Alison Green

Employers are increasingly paying attention to what their employees and prospective employees are doing on social media sites. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you’re doing online.

Using social media sites wisely can help your career in a number of ways:

Building your knowledge base. No matter what field you’re in, there almost surely are dozens of blogs and websites where people with an interest in your field gather to share information and ideas. If you’re a regular reader of these sites, you’ll be constantly learning, and you’ll probably be as aware of coming trends as well-known experts in your industry.

Building your credibility. By blogging about your field, leaving comments on other people’s blogs, and participating in industry conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites, you’ll begin to build credibility as someone who, at a minimum, has an intense interest in and passion for the field. Put yourself in the shoes of an employer—who would you rather hire, a candidate with a demonstrated track record of interest and ideas in your subject matter, or someone for whom it might be just a job?

Establishing yourself as an expert. If you participate enough in the activities above, and you do it well, you can even start to build a reputation as an expert in your field.

Dramatically expanding your network. This kind of online participation means that you’ll start to build dozens of professional contacts, people you can call on when you’re job searching or seeking professional advice.

But as much of a boon to your career as social media can be, it can also do harm if you don’t use it thoughtfully. More and more employers are Googling job candidates and current employees, and sometimes what they’re finding is damaging.

More information on how social media can harm your career and how to avoid those mistakes

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