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What is your social identity at work?

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What is your social identity at work?

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Social media is a ubiquitous part of the modern workplace. Despite some attempts to block access, the modern employee is hyper-connected as never before. LinkedIn, Twitter, Yammer, blogs. The list of ways to keep connected go on and on, especially with the growing popularity of smart phones and tablet devices. Use of these services means that each of us is publishing ever more data about ourselves, be it on the public web or on our corporate intranets. This data is increasingly being used by both prospective and current employers to determine our value, influence and motivation. The extent of this hyper-connectivity was emphasised in a new report by the Government Office for Science on the changing face of identity.

Big data in the workplace

Various tools are seeking to capitalise on this flood of data within the workplace. Salesforce for instance launched a new tool called Influencer last year that aims to provide an overview of how influential someone is by analysing their social contributions. Cataphora is another company that is taking an analytical approach to employee data. It’s software provides a contextual relationship between the data analysed. That includes emails, instant messaging, phone calls and even that contained within documents such as spreadsheets. It then builds a digital character for each employee that is mapped against the normal behaviour in the organisation. Managers can thus detect any deviations from the norm and act accordingly.

How to build a positive digital footprint

So if these tools are likely to become the norm, how can you ensure that your own digital persona is having a positive influence on your career? One key issue to consider is the importance of thinking long-term. Remember that your data is easily aggregated. Therefore if you frequently publish data with short-term goals in mind, it can easily create a confused picture when that data is aggregated. It’s much better to think about the kind of persona or identity you wish to portray, and then be very consistent about doing so. Being someone who is deliberate and thoughtful, or who shoots from the hip, or is very knowledgeable in a certain area — these are all conscious decisions. If you don’t think this matters, a CareerBuilder survey conducted last year should make sober reading. It found that while candidates may be aware that potential employers are viewing their social profiles, they might not realize that their online personas are costing them a job. A third of the HR respondents said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate, including:

  • 49% shared provocative or inappropriate photos or information
  • 45% listed information about drinking or using drugs
  • 35% had poor communication skills
  • 33% bad-mouthed a previous employer
  • 28% made discriminatory comments
So in an era of hyper-connectivity, what is your digital footprint saying about you?

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