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Be careful what you say on Facebook

By Danielle A Jones Tuesday, April 20 2010

Speech delivered at COSTAATT Job Fair 2010

•There are over 300,000 Trinidadians using Facebook;

•It took radio 38 years to hit 50 million users — it took Facebook nine months to hit 100 million users; so?

•Eighty percent of US companies are using LinkedIn to find employees;

•Employers around do FB searches and Google searches before they finalise interview candidates.

•With the snap of a mobile phone — someone can upload me to the www in less than 30 seconds — and I may not even know it!

•Blackberries used to cost $5,000. This week they are under $500. Sales are up over 50 percent year on year from last year

•No 1 search term related to Trinidad and Tobago is related to an internet accident.

What does all this mean to the workers of tomorrow? It means what you do today, can and will be seen by a future employer.

In today’s world, we are all already employed. If you have a mobile phone and access to the world wide web, you have all the tools to be a brand manager for the world’s most powerful brand — You! If your image were for sale, who would buy it and what are you doing to market yourself.

In years past, to the job seeker, your No 1 tool was your resume! How a resume? You may as well rip it up. They’re outdated before you print them. Why?

Your digital footprint is more important than anything you can place in a resume.

Your digital footprint includes all your visits to YouTube, what you comment on online, your Facebook profile, Tweets, Ning friends, where you “check in” on Foursquare and even pictures you get tagged in.

Scared? You should be. Relax, local workplaces still use resumes. Don’t relax too much, we use Facebook and Google searches for employees too!

The days of “What happens in the party stays in the party” are as behind us as the days when we had to use an actual dictionary to look up the meaning of a word. By 2012, — just two years from now, when most of you will either be finishing up your degrees or in the work world, Fibreoptics at the curb will be reality.

Do you know what that is? More important than what it is, is what it will mean.

This will make internet connectivity equally accessible as mobile phone service — to the most average Trinbagonian.

Macos will be empowered. Politics will shift from the platform to digital debates and real life will blend with digital life. Signs of that are happening now.

To you, the employees of tomorrow, this means now, more than ever, you must take steps to ensure your digital footprint matches the image you want to project to the world.

So, what tips do I, a beauty queen who am not thrilled that most of my swimsuit and gown photos from Miss Universe 2004 are available to anyone I interact with on the street, at the supermarket or in that party I had too good a time at?

I have many tips and here are a few from Danielle Jones the entrepreneur and senior manager.

1. Keep private private: How many of you have cursed, or have seen a friend curse in their facebook profile? What about broadcasting way too personal business via their Facebook profile? TMI right?! Reality check! The employers of tomorrow will watch what you post and judge you by it. Just like you would not want your parents to know exactly how much time you spent looking at pornographic material on line, keep your private business from the world. So:

a. Comments like You are a “this” (replace this with a bad word) and “your brother/sister/mother/ is a dat” as your profile status will never land you an interview. Avoid them.

b. Do not list yourself as in a relationship – don’t fill out the profile. Why? Because when/if that status changes, it gives rise to comments you cannot control.

c. Do not place links to websites or web references that you would not want to share with your parents and grandparents.

d. Avoid political comments.

e. In fact, rule of thumb, if you would not say, share the information you want to post in your profile with your grandmother, don’t put it on Facebook/ YouTube etc. They can and will find it and guess what, future employers will too.

2. Mind your friends: We all have a shady friend or two. Did you know there are ways to control the actions of friends via Facebook? Who can see/ view / leave comments on your wall? Look into that. No need to be rude about it either. Just change the settings quietly and move on. Do not add people you do not know.

That’s like opening your bedroom up to a stranger. They can and will find ways to impact your personal life.

3. Befriend the companies you admire and talk with them. Last but not least: be a good personal PR client. Make sure your social networking behaviour reflects real life.

Danielle A Jones is a former TT representative in the Miss Universe Pageant

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