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Push your career, don't 'poke' it

Last updated on: July 23, 2010 10:39 IST

Push your career, don't 'poke' it

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Shivani Shinde in Mumbai

Update, tweet and share all you want, but be mindful of how it can affect your life and career.


Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, LinkedIn and other social networking sites are blurring the difference between professional and personal lives.

Take the case of CNN's senior editor for West Asian affairs, Octavia Nasr, who was recently sacked for some tweets (messages) posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.

This wasn't the first time an employer has taken to task employees over what they said on social networking sites. There have been hundreds of such instances. And every time such an event takes place, questions are raised about how one should manage one's behaviour on such sites.

No one in India has been given the boot due to such a situation, not yet anyway. But it could soon be a reality.

Already, India's second-largest information technology services firm, Infosys Technologies, has said it will come up with a legal policy against employees who leak information on social networking sites.

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Push your career, don't 'poke' it

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This is an important step. According to audience traffic and demographics research firm Vizisense, Facebook has around eight million users in India.

Interestingly, it clocks 18.7 million visitors each month. On the other hand, professional networking site LinkedIn boasts a subscriber base of six million in the country, and gets just 2.79 million visitors per month.

Hot recruiting grounds...

One regular visitor to such social networking sites is Kunal Kishore, director of Value360 Communications. Kishore has made it a habit to check both social as well as professional profiles of all prospective employees.

All the staff hired in 2009-10 by Value360, which is into media consultancy, were done through professional networking sites after checking their social profiles.

"There was this one candidate whom we approached after scrutinising her professional profile. She claimed to be an avid blogger and active online, which is what we required. I made it a point to check her social networking profiles. In one of the older posts on Facebook, she had written: 'I really worked hard, chatted with a friend for an hour, spent two-three hours playing Farmville and another hour Facebooking'. While we need people who are active socially, this seemed like a very casual attitude. We did not hire her," says Kishore.

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Push your career, don't 'poke' it

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A 2010 survey by recruiting software firm Jobvite points out that social recruiting has become a mainstream channel for companies looking to hire people, with 83 per cent now using or planning to use social media for recruiting.

LinkedIn continues to lead in usage (and even more so in successful hires). But there has been a steady growth in adoption of multiple networks like Facebook and Twitter, too.

In India, a study conducted by job search engine provider CareerBuilder India found that more than seven out of every 10 (73 per cent) employers used social networking sites to research candidates' backgrounds. Another 15 per cent planned to start using social networking sites for screening.

It is only natural that users, too, would prefer social networking sites to job portals, though the numbers still stack up in favour of the latter.

"I had been looking for a change for a long time and had my resume on leading job portals. Later, at the behest of my brother, I signed on ApnaCircle. Since it's a professional networking site, it was easy to spot a group that was into marketing and I got my next job offer," says 27-year-old Jeet Kumar, who is happily serving his notice period.

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Push your career, don't 'poke' it

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...those bare-all details

But experts opine, since your personal details are easily available, people should be aware of the information they post on these sites and what they say as well.

The survey by CareerBuilder India notes that 42 per cent employers in India reported they found some content or the other on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate.

Prominent among these was the fact that candidates lied about their qualifications (48 per cent), had poor communications skills (31 per cent), bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers and clients (19 per cent) and an equal percentage of people thought candidates shared confidential information.

B2B consultancy firm PaulWriter CEO Jessie Paul, who has served as the chief marketing officer at Wipro Technologies as well, feels one has to be aware of what they say online.

"You can be sure that if you are online, you will be looked up. Whatever you put out in public is visible. Two years ago,  I used LinkedIn for hiring at Wipro. But if I am asked now to hire someone, I will surely check their social profiles and tweets as well," she adds.

Paul elaborates with an interesting anecdote. "There was this case where an acquaintance was asked to leave as he would call up the office and say he is not well or something and, immediately, there would be an update on Facebook that he is out for lunch!" says Paul.

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Know the pros & cons

Managing your image on social networking sites, hence, is very important.

Profiles on sites like Facebook and Orkut are personal, but since these can be accessed by a third person, make sure the pictures, contents and comments on your profile will not go against you.

Having some of your colleagues on your social profile could also help, but do not bad-mouth your company or ex-employer.

Another thing to keep in mind is discussing your problems on such public forums. Either use your email or keep the chat confidential. Many social networking sites do have this feature. Finally, keep your job search confidential, or your existing employer might come to know of it.

Agrees Salma Firoza Khanam, who was hired by her firm after they visited her LinkedIn profile: "My employers saw my profile on LinkedIn and approached me. After that, they also saw my Facebook profile. The actual interview lasted for just two minutes.

But I think what really worked for me was the reference I had on my professional network and how I used my social profile as well."

So, the next time you plan to tweet, update your social profile or share anything online, think about who all can access your profile.



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