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As a young "millennial" who just entered the work force, a big trend I see is people my age changing their name on various social media platforms. The main purpose behind this is to make it more difficult to be found when people (let's call them "potential employers") search for them. It spans from changing your surname to your middle name on Facebook, to creating "Finsta" accounts to showcase your artistic or foodie nature. I believe in self-expression, but to me when you have to create a fake alias or screen who can see your content, it means one of two things: You are afraid to be judged for it, or you know it is inappropriate to post on the internet. In the case of the former, you are censoring your own self-expression and limiting your audience. In the case of the latter, you probably just shouldn't post it.
As someone who has grown up with social media, and grown up on social media, I am well aware of the psychological "benefits" and the very permanent "consequences" of each post. But from the very beginning I have always adopted a social media philosophy of "Hiding in Plain Sight." From my early days on Twitter and Facebook, my username has always included my first and last name in some manner. (If we choose to ignore my AIM days where my screenname was Sportfreak734.) This forced me to be extremely conscious of what I was posting, but not to the extent of censoring myself. Each social media platform is different, and has unwritten rules and tacit guidelines. But despite this, I try to keep a consistent message across all my accounts and collectively, I believe all of them paint an accurate portrayal of who I am.
I have also erred on the side of late adoption to new forms of social media, especially Instagram and Snapchat. They seemed foreign and overwhelming to me at first, but it allowed me to see the pioneers experiment while I simply observed. Which brings me to LinkedIn. I have had a LinkedIn account for several years now, but I have mostly been an "observer" because the idea of a professional social media platform is unbelievably foreign to me. However, as I have observed how people act on LinkedIn and what content is popular, I am starting to get a feel for it, and now I want to participate. But my audience is not established executives or recruiters. This article and the majority of my posts will be targeted at people my age, whether they have just joined the work force or are about to enter it. Whether they are excited by the work they do or simply view their job as a way to make money. Both are valid reasons.
Sorry I have a tendency to go off on tangents, and I am not a seasoned writer, so forgive me for rambling. The main message of this article was to highlight how social media can actually be leveraged as a powerful tool to land the job you want or find the career path best suited for you. So, my tips for utilizing this tool would be:
- Keep a consistent message across all platforms
- Always remember your audience
- Find the line between self-expression and self-censoring
- Just be yourself
At the end of the day, it is just social media and there is no rulebook.