Friday, November 2, 2012

Mind your e-language: How you interact with people on any platform on the Web and what you say about issues is an indication of the kind of person you are

Sonal Agrawal, managing partner of an executive search firm, has made a strong case in Mint for minding your e-language. Writing in her "Career Coach" column, she says this is "not about censoring every online move but about exercising restraint".

Agrawal begins her column with the example of a candidate who messed up his chances of a job with a private equity client of her company's because he had not been "particularly circumspect about the language or tone he used".

Agrawal continues:

After some debate, the firm decided that the candidate’s online personal (but not private) interactions displayed an almost schizophrenic lack of maturity and judgment. While I certainly wouldn’t classify him as a “hater”, he certainly bordered on being an Internet troll. They didn’t hire him. Amazingly enough (or perhaps not), the candidate went on a rant about free speech and privacy — online, on a public profile.

Every year I have been telling my students to watch what they say on Facebook and other public platforms ("Yes, recruiters are using Facebook and Twitter to screen candidates") so I was glad to see Agrawal's piece. What she has to say on this subject should be taken seriously because a. she knows what she is talking about, and b. she knows what she is talking about because she is an expert in the recruitment business.

What she has to say here is particulary pertinent today:

With the costs and risks of making a bad hire increasing exponentially, employers are increasingly looking at researching potential candidates well beyond their professional profiles and traditional reference checks. Apart from seeking to reinforce positive traits — Are you well networked? Do you communicate well? Are you considered an expert in your field? — they are also consciously looking for tell-tale signs of undesirable traits that could disqualify you for the job. Do you have anger-management issues? How do you react to stress? Are you racist? Are you a team player? Apart from the traditional methods of interviewing, referencing and testing, increasingly they are going online to see what you are saying about yourself, not just to professional links, but also to your friends, followers and circles. 

Read her column in its entirety here: "Mind your e-language".
  • UPDATE (June 29, 2013): From an article published in Bloomberg Businessweek two days ago: "Think before you post, especially if you’re looking for a job. Seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Yet despite all the advice and warnings to be cautious with social media, job applicants continue to get burned by their online profiles." Read the piece in its entirety here: Hey Job Applicants, Time to Stop the Social-Media Sabotage. 

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