Hunting for a summer job? Consider the brand you're creating on social media
For the digital generation, focus should be not just on dangers of social media, but how to use it effectively
There are flashing red warning lights these days for many of us about how we engage with social networks, thanks to recent events such as Facebook's sharing of users' data.
While many of us are wary of how we use social media, though, the reality is that this issue isn't an immediate concern to youth — those born in the age where you can learn to unlock an iPad before you learn to write your name. This isn't to say that they shouldn't be concerned, but simply that it isn't at the forefront of their priorities when it come to social media.
So instead of focusing only on the dangers of social media, why not look into how to use it effectively?
As an educator, I teach students about cyberbullying and what you can do to stay safe online. I recently hosted a free community master class with a Royal Bank recruitment team, with the focus on teaching youth about the power of personal branding using the means they already use to express themselves — social media.
Tips for job seekers
With summer approaching, many students seek summer jobs. Those students should know that social media builds your personal brand. While branding is often associated with businesses, each of us has our own personal brand. Social media is now a big part of that brand.
During her presentation, Debbie Tabor, a recruitment manager with RBC, revealed that the interview process begins even before you walk through that door. Most interviewers will have already checked your social media presence beyond LinkedIn.
That profanity-laced post mocking authority that you reposted because you thought it was hilarious? Probably not going to do wonders for the impression you leave. Posting it doesn't necessarily mean that those values are yours, but it certainly comes across that way when it's something you do repeatedly.
That photo or post that you wouldn't be comfortable showing your grandmother? Consider that your potential future boss could also see that.
Reflect your values
Keep in mind that social media is a place of freedom of speech and fun, but with that comes responsibility. It's also not a place for building a false front of carefully edited and curated photos. My advice to young people is to be aware that what you post is a reflection of your values. If you don't want to be known for that post you're about to submit, then stop yourself before you post it.
At the RBC master class, Michelle Aitkenhead, a community market manager with the bank in Winnipeg, ran us through important exercises which identify personal values. It's an eye-opening process and when you know your values, your decision-making process becomes clear.
Are you someone who is passionate about social justice and volunteers for different community initiatives? Document that through photos and videos and post those on your profile, then get connected with individuals who are doing work in those fields. Are you interested in innovative technologies? Have a profile that reflects what truly matters to you.
My recommendation for youth: I often see youth creating multiple accounts on the same platform. Why not break it down to just two? Have a private account that is your personal account, limited to your family and friends where you can share quirky things. As you practise building a profile that truly reflects your values, make one public account and get feedback from your family and friends about what you post.
Shape your brand
As a youth mentor, I see the ways that students around me are shaping their personal brand online. I'm seeing posts that are congruent to their values, and how they are using that to get ahead.
One student has used social media to actively campaign for a school election. Another student, with an interest in creative arts, builds her online presence to reflect this, which then connects her to other youth with similar passions.
These girls are becoming "go to" individuals on their topics of choice, all because they have branded their social media platforms to line up with what they want to be known for.
Social media has the power to be a positive or negative space. Which it is is entirely up to you and how you use it.
Know your values, make an authentic reflection of yourself, and own your social media space to make it work for you.