Online Personalities and Professionalism

“Once you put it online, it’s there forever…”

“Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see…”

We are relentlessly taught by mentors, professors, advisers and professionals to be careful of what we say online. Every tweet, snapchat, Facebook post and blog we publish is available for (almost) anyone to see. Which means we have to scrutinize everything we say for fear of one person misinterpreting our words, right?

I don’t think so.

Employers want to hire people who know how to act professionally – that’s a given. But they also want to hire people with personality. Would you rather share a cubicle with someone who has no decorations or someone who displays their love of the Cleveland Cavaliers through LeBron sticky notes and Kyrie pens? You’d probably choose the latter, unless you’re a Steph Curry fan – although getting a message accompanied by LeBron’s face could provide a great foundation for witty office banter.

Just as you decorate your workspace to reflect what you’re like in real life, your online personality should do the same. In fields such as PR and advertising, where creative thinking is of high value, it’s okay – and even admired – to act a little quirky. The sense of humor you show on social media could also be the talent that helps you write outstanding copy for your first assignment.

If you’re still wary about what you post, keep these things in mind:

Be respectful with the content you share. Into politics? That’s great! But instead of voicing your opinion by retweeting a potentially offensive political cartoon, share a link to an article that uses examples and facts to get your point across. It’s awesome to talk about your passions on social media – just do it in a way that is courteous to other viewpoints.

Think of your audience. Your Instagram followers would love to see a picture from your karaoke night, but that same post might look a little funny on LinkedIn. Different types of posts work with different audiences. Keep this in mind when deciding what to share.

Consider where you want to work. Do you see yourself at an edgy, forward-thinking company? Or do you prefer a more structured, traditional setting? The tone of your online personality should match your IRL lifestyle.

There are many fine lines when it comes to social media, but those lines are taking new shapes every day. Whether you’re online or in the real world, let your personality show!



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Emily Barber is a senior studying Journalism-Strategic Communication. She is also the VP of External Relations for Scripps PRSSA. Follow her on Twitter @emilybarbershop.

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