The Internet is a vast space that offers a plethora of positive opportunities, support and entertainment. However, as the use of social media becomes more ingrained into our everyday lives, it’s important to consider how this can impact your professional image and opportunities.
When looking for work, there’s a high probability that a potential employer will search for your online activity, so you want to be sure that the information you’re putting into the online space is appropriate and not hurting your chances for being chosen for a position. The same logic applies if you are employed. You want to keep in mind that you are a reflection of your company and your online behavior should be appropriate in that context. Additionally, for cancer patients and survivors, disclosure is a very important consideration in terms of the online space. If you’ve decided you do not want to share information about your health with your employer, make sure you’re not sharing this information on your social media accounts.
The Muse understands the vulnerability that comes with a social media presence and has come up with a list of questions that are important to ask before posting on social media. Cancer and Careers has selected a few that we believe to resonate with those in the cancer community.
What’s my company’s social media policy? Many companies outline regulations in terms of online behavior. These policies tend to be in the employee handbook and typically describe prohibited behavior and the consequences. Familiarize yourself with these policies so there is a clear understanding of how your online conduct can impact your job. Also, keep in mind that those who are at-will employees can be fired for any reason at any time, which could include online posts.
Is this something I’d be comfortable having my employer see? While this falls in line with the above consideration, if your employer has not outlined what is not allowed, then think of how you’d feel if what you post were to be read out loud at work. While it’s possible to have private social media accounts, there’s always a chance someone could stumble across a post you put up. Making sure it’s something that wouldn’t be offensive, or hurt your chances of getting or keeping a job, is crucial.
Is this conversation in line with my personal brand? How you represent yourself online will carry over into the real world, so really evaluating whether what you’re posting is a proper reflection of who you are and how you’d like to be seen, is another way to ensure you’re not going to hurt your professional image. If you present yourself one way in an interview, and contradict those attitudes online, a potential employer may view you as being disingenuous. Though some opinions may seem benign, it’s vital to consider how they may be interpreted.
Cancer and Careers understands the impact of online activity and wants to help you avoid finding yourself in a compromised situation as a result of online activity. For more on making sure you’re utilizing social media to your advantage, take a look at our Balancing Work & Cancer webinar recording on “Using Social Media to Tell Your Best Story”. For additional information on ways to protect yourself online and at work, you can view our recording on “Disclosure, Privacy & Online Brand,” which covers what you should consider with regard to the online space when you have a diagnosis.
If you’re still feeling unsure about how you’ve presented yourself online, take a look at our section on “Your Online Footprint” for articles on assessing the impression your social media profiles may be giving to potential employers.