August, 2008


Beware - Community Sites can Make or Mar your Career

The transition from College to Corporate is one of the most crucial transitions in a person’s life. Catapulted into the corporate world, an individual has to build a persona and an identity in an altogether different and new environment as an adult. Thus far, in the college, the identity has been one of adolescence or at best that of a young adult. The transition calls for many life skills like leadership, team work etc. Unlike in yesteryears, in the internet era, apart from the physical persona and identity, an individual also has a virtual identity or online identity. Yes….what is being referred to here are the various blogs and community sites like Orkut, Facebook, Myspace etc. It is this supposedly private space that employers are increasingly prying into to know more about a potential hire. After all, an employer would be missing a trick if he or she failed to google a candidate’s name; tracking someone is that easy. With all the new technologies and search engines, intrusions into our privacy are increasingly common. This coupled with tech savvy bosses means that an online identity is becoming central to a successful job hunt. Employers are going online and rejecting job seekers after discovering secrets candidates thought only their friends knew. Employers are going online at all stages, not necessarily at the recruiting stage alone. Companies are googling and finding pictures and discussions about that last weekend party (remember that Saturday night!!) and are concluding “that is not the sort of person we want to hire”. Another resume is consigned to the delete button. Bad mouthing your boss or your organization are sure ways of digging your career grave. The only real solution is not to put this stuff online in the first place. Make sure your blog and the comments you post on other blogs present the kind of image you would like to project.

However, all is not bad with the networking sites. One can leverage the advantages too by projecting your positives. Pictures of you with your family on a holiday or an exhibit of your interests and hobbies showcasing your skills are excellent ways of building your online persona. Multi-national companies give a lot of importance to voluntary and social work. Pictures or narration of your recent volunteering experience say, in a blood donation camp, a tree plantation campaign or teaching in a village school can help build a solid online identity. On a different note, if you carried through a leadership role in your college culfest or techfest, sharing some notable experiences which tested your nerves and how you managed the situation successfully could also project a positive online persona. One can even, present a nicely crafted resume (without calling it a resume) and attract the attention of a potential employer. Having said that, ensure that you don’t overdo it and end up projecting a larger than life persona…online. After all, the basis for final assessment or selection is going to be only live not online.