How to be a star employee on social media

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Nov 04

When it comes time for hiring managers, managers within your company, or business partners to find out about you and your work, social media is the first place people go. Famously, we Google the name and the fun begins. Much has been made of the boss firing the employee after the employee disses the boss on Facebook along with many other examples. That won’t be repeated here; Cubicle Warriors don’t do dumb things like that.

But what if you wanted to represent yourself as the star employee you are right now? How would you do that through social media?

Here are five suggestions.

Use the right social media tool for your work

If you work for the Food Network, for example, Facebook has multiple fan pages devoted to the network and the stars of the network. It makes sense to use Facebook as the right social media tool of choice if you worked there.

If Facebook is too limiting for what you do, use Twitter and tie it to your other social media accounts.

LinkedIn is considered the “business” social media of choice, but it is not very real time. However, actively participating in groups that match your work and job skills makes good sense.

The key is if you want to show your star qualities as an employee, pick the social media that helps you show your work.

Post work stuff during work hours, family and friends after work

If you are supposed to be writing code, it doesn’t help your cause to post stuff about last night’s game. Or date. The time stamps on social media posts reveal what you are thinking and when you are thinking it.

Smart hiring managers look at the time stamps, see the non-work posts during working hours and casually pass on your resume or promotion. And you never knew you were removed from consideration for the position. Cubicle Warriors know how easily opportunities can slip away, so they focus on always being in a position to attract opportunities.

Always be positive about your work

Being positive doesn’t mean rah-rah. It means you want to post stuff that helps you show your star employee qualities you already have.

Consider, for example, the posting “going to a meeting.” I see this all the time on Twitter and Facebook. Doesn’t do much to show your job skills or work accomplishments, does it?

Instead, post about your accomplishments, your completed training and finishing tasks. Managers look for people that deliver results. If all you do is post that you are going to a meeting, you are not accomplishing anything.

Person one: “Going to a meeting.”

Person two: “Just completed SQL Server training. Completes my certification.” Or, “Just finished massive milestone on my large project. Really helps the company.”

Which person, given equal qualifications, would the hiring manager interview?

Never criticize your manager or management

My saying is this: What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet. If you accept the premise that you should never criticize management or company in an interview, why would you do that on social media and risk not getting an interview in the first place?

Unfortunately, the written word is not necessarily clear communication and people interpret the same sentence differently because of their experience and perspective. So if there is a hint of negativity, save it for your face to face meeting and leave the Internet to the Internet.

Add to the conversation

Social media isn’t all about you, of course. One of the purposes of social media is to be, well, social. Contributing to the conversation means posting links to articles that will benefit others that share your work skills. You offer constructive comments that build the conversation rather than shut it down.

Contributing quality information to the community shows you want to help others. When you consider that your “fit” into a new team is a strong consideration for getting hired, showing that you can contribute to others through social media helps the manager see your ability to fit on the team.

How much do you contribute to your connections?

Social media is a career tool

Cubicle Warriors view social media as one of their tools to support their career, not just a way to stay in touch and pass the time. It gives them a very unfair advantage over their coworkers who think social media is just for fun.

Wouldn’t you want that unfair advantage?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.

  • Linda says:

    Two things are a bit off in your post above. First, if companies are looking at time stamps, I hope they are also looking at frequency of posts so they can decipher when someone is posting on a vacation day as opposed to regular worktime postings. These represent very different scenarios.
    Second, criticism that exists for the sake of letting off steam is very different from constructive criticism. I would hope an employee who is conscious about his/her work, and is thinking about ways to improve it (e.g. constructively criticizing current practice) would be viewed differently than someone who is simply whining. You post doesn’t consider these shades of gray.

    • Scot says:

      @ Linda — I think it would good if managers considered vacations versus work time, but I think they instead look at the body of work, including the frequency of the posts, when they look at a person’s social media posts. That’s one of the reasons to ensure you are using the right social media for the right reasons. LinkedIn for work, for example, and Facebook for personal stuff. You limit misinterpretation of what you are doing.

      The venting versus constructive criticism, to me, is a non-starter. If you have constructive criticism, go talk to your manager and figure out what’s next. If you are venting, I wouldn’t even do that at work in today’s environment. If you were looking for a job, would a hiring manager know the difference between venting and constructive criticism? Would a hiring manager want to hire someone who puts constructive criticism on the Internet for all the world (and competitors) to see instead of helping the team to improve face to face? That’s why I’m not into criticism about work in social media; there’s just no percentage for an advantage to a Cubicle Warrior for doing it..

  • Ross Joyner says:

    While the post makes some interesting and good recomendations, I would agree with the comment above. The employers and HR departments don’t often check time post against when the employee is working. We have not yet gotten to the place where companies will allow surfing and facebook use during work hours. I would therefore purpose that this be done on off hours, when talking to other employees on facebook about the positive attribute of the company they work for ! Branding on social media can be very tricky at times.

    • Scot says:

      @ Ross — When writing these, I need to address the full universe, including those companies that DO allow surfing away. I’ve worked at Fortune 100 companies that allowed that.

      I can see the “time stamp” stuff is disconcerting. Perhaps we can think of it this way: If all you do is post personal stuff on social media, one of two things will happen when a hiring manager looks at it. One, they will see all personal stuff and notice it happens during the work day. Or, two, they will ignore all of it and you, as a hopeful candidate, won’t make that personal branding impression you need to differentiate yourself to get the interview or the job.

      How about that way of looking at it?

  • Qiana says:

    I agree with Linda’s comments.

    I also disagree with your point about posting during work hours for 2 reasons:

    #1 – Many social media platforms and the apps/tools created for them allow you to schedule your (status) updates. So “smart hiring managers” should keep in mind that people may be operating at night and scheduling their work to publish during the day/max eyeball time.

    #2 – The best way to learn about the capabilities of a social media tool is to use it for personal reasons. You can then bring those same skills and education to your work pursuits. I would hope that “smart hiring managers” would understand this too. Acting like Big Brother and monitoring time stamps without considering the (potential) employee’s intentions will just drive away smart and innovate people that could bring value to a company.

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  • Scot says:

    @ Qiana — I agree with both of your points.

    What I wonder, though, is whether or not employers and hiring managers have really gotten to the point where they understand how social media works and realize it is a good thing to hire people with those skills.

    Companies ARE acting like Big Brother and banning social sites at work and firing people for the comments on the social sites because it violates their Business Code of Conduct.

    So the risk profile of getting a job assuming every smart manager gets social media, I think, is high.

    I’m curious if the crowd believes that managers understand social media well enough so that they would know the features of how social media works and think that hiring someone who gets social media is a good thing. (I know most of you are here because of the Social Media e-mail from Smart Brief, so I’m hoping that doesn’t push this in one direction!). I’m seriously curious because I have not seen that sophistication yet from most companies.

  • Libby says:

    I understand why hiring managers would look on the Internet for information regarding a potential employee. However, if you allow open access to your information, you should be prepared for the ramifications that come from it. If you are smart about how you utilize social media, you will show a potential employer your worth. I do believe more companies are becoming smarter about the utilization of social media in the work place. You also need to keep in mind that many people utilize their cellphones to update their sites. If a potential employes is looking at time stamps, then they aren’t looking at the overall picture. I would be more concerned about the content that is being posted versus the time spent. We have become a multi-tasking society.

    • Scot says:

      @ Libby — the privacy features of much of social media is a very good point. Facebook, for example, allows you to differentiate what people see; Twitter, not so much. As the privacy features change on the sites, we need to review them for impact.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Mark Pack says:

    I’m also dubious about the time-stamps point, in part because I often write social media content out of work hours but then schedule it to appear during work hours, as that’s the best time to get an audience.

    • Scot says:

      For all those dubious about time stamps, check out number four, here: Using social media to find star employees.

      Short version: “Social media at the right time: Is your candidate on the job currently? Is he or she tweeting about her friends while she should be coding? Check the times of tweets and Facebook updates, and differentiate between social media for work and social media for play.”

      Regardless of whether or not managers check the actual time stamps, they do check the content and will notice if all the social stuff is personal during the work day, advance posted or not. The action I’m advocating here is to review your posts from the point of view of a hiring manager and then asking yourself what impression you are giving out. One area to check is how much posting of non-work stuff you do while you are at work.

      Could we say that the more you post about your friends and family while you are at work the more you increase the risk of ruining your work’s personal brand?

  • Eric says:

    Great discussion here on the topic, but we all need to keep in mind (as Scot noted) that most of us are readers of SmartBrief on Social Media and are pretty savvy on the technology side of the argument. Most hiring managers are not (at least for now) so erring on the side of “safe” will protect you if/when you find yourself out in this tough job market.

  • carol hagen says:

    If you don’t keep personal at home, your CIO is liable to turn off access to the public facing social networks. Blocking Facebook, Twitter and other social media is as high as 54% in enterprises and they estimate a productivity gain of 1.5% with employees not wasting time on Facebook alone. I discussed this in my blog last week http://bit.ly/2q9eaa

    • Scot says:

      @ Carol — thanks for sharing the numbers. Sometimes, we have the “curse of knowledge” where we know that great employees are better because of social media and are good at multi-tasking — but the rest of the world hasn’t caught up yet. Which is why I’m outlining here the most conservative approach to social media that also helps promote your personal brand.

      A good discussion, this one…thanks to everyone for the comments so far.

  • Pete says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen this website – and probably the last. I find it unprofessional that you feel you must justify your position and attempt to refute all the comments coming in from others. Get over it. Accept the fact that others have good opinions and comments that may not agree with yours.

  • Scot says:

    @ Pete — Well, I’ll try and justify my position because it is the position I wrote about, so get over it.

    As to refuting all the comments here, you aren’t counting. Most of the comments I agreed with. I stated so. I asked questions in some of the comments, especially about the belief that managers would understand social media in relation to comments during working hours. And I think people made very constructive comments, unlike this one, and told them so.

    So now I’ve refuted your comment. Hope it makes you happy.

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