Test your social media IQ
Careers Is your Facebook page damaging your career prospects? Find out with C+D’s careers quiz
We've all been there. You wake up one morning to find an unflattering photo of yourself posted online by a Facebook friend and rapidly hit the ‘remove tag' button. But while the shame is quickly forgotten between friends, what happens if this is the lasting impression you leave with your boss or prospective employer?
Reports suggest that the boundaries between traditionally 'social' media and professional networks are beginning to blur. Companies are increasingly using sites such as Facebook to promote their brand and, shockingly, some US companies have even asked for candidates' login details to the site during the interview process.
So how can you ensure your online profile use will boost, and not jeopardise, your job prospects? Take C+D's quiz and find out how you rate in the social media stakes.
1 What is on your Facebook profile page?
a) A few photos of myself on nights out and chatty messages – my privacy settings are high, so only people I've accepted as friends can see my page
b) I think of it as a professional platform as well as social, so I've ‘liked' my employer and post regularly about my working life
c) Dubious pictures from our Ibiza rave night, moaning about my job and lots of 'OMG' moments – no-one at work can see this, right?
2 Your patient sends you a friend request on Facebook – how do you react?
a) Accept their request and comment "lolz!" on that photo of them drunkenly attempting to climb a lamppost
b) Accept their request but only grant them limited access to your profile
c) Reject their request, explaining that you have to be careful not to cross boundaries as a healthcare professional
3 You decide to start a work-related blog. What is it called?
a) ‘Secret life of an on-call pharmacist' – juicy secrets from behind the dispensary – all anonymous, of course
b) ‘Dispensing daily' – you chart everything that has happened to you throughout your working day, from the mug of tea the pre-reg brought you to the pesky customer whose Labrador knocked over your stock
c) ‘Anna Smith's pharmacy blog' – it may not be the most imaginative title, but it will appear when employers search your name and will help you talk about the issues affecting the industry
4 You've seen a job going in your company that could represent the promotion you've been looking for. How do you go about applying?
a) Hit the social media. Send a LinkedIn request to the recruitment manager, mention them on Twitter and tell everyone how excited you are on Facebook
b) Speak to the recruitment manager in person and follow up with an electronic application, which signposts to your LinkedIn profile
c) Print out your CV and covering letter, and pop a copy in the post – you've bought first-class stamps especially
1 Correct answer – a) or b)
We've all heard the horror stories of employees being sacked over inappropriate Facebook posts. But that doesn't mean you're entire online presence needs to be work-related – just use common sense to decide what's appropriate, says David Gilbert, development partner at Flame Health.
"Facebook is a social media platform and most people are using it for that purpose," he explains. "The only thing to bear in mind is if you choose to publish your life, choose high privacy settings. It's just making sure things are appropriately managed."
2 Correct answer – c)
Facebook is for friends and not for patients, BMA guidance states in no unclear terms. The organisation recommends that doctors should not accept Facebook friend requests from either current or former patients.
And, as fellow healthcare professionals, it makes sense for pharmacists to follow suit. After all, just last week the Guardian reported that doctors who had strayed outside those guidelines had received unwanted attention from patients, including "intrusive" and "amorous" advances.
Mentioning patients is also frowned upon, as disclosing patient-identifiable information in the public domain could prompt legal complaints.
3 Correct answer – c)
While it may be tempting to write a tell-all blog about life at your company, it's rarely a good move unless you're expecting to make a best-selling book or TV deal out of your musings. Blogs and websites can often be tracked back to the author, so it's best to stick with a professional ethos. And this approach can boost your career.
"With any job application, if employers see that people are going the extra mile and really engaging with their particular profession on a blog, that can only be a good thing," says Flame Health's Mr Gilbert. "We use blogs to engage with our clients and readership a bit more informally – a lot of people are using blogs to do that and that can only be a positive thing."
4 Correct answer – b)
While social media is a useful add-on to job applications, it shouldn't overshadow the basic principles of a good application, says Flame Health's Mr Gilbert. "There's no substitute for presenting yourself in real life to your prospective employer because competition for places is quite high and I certainly don't think social media will get you the ideal opportunity on its own," he warns.
Creating a CV that links to your LinkedIn profile is one of the best ways of using social media, he says, "as long as there are no spelling or grammar mistakes and it shows you're engaging with people in that environment".
Mr Gilbert adds that LinkedIn is the "priority" platform in a professional context – 70 per cent of respondents to a Flame Health survey named it as the preferred social media outlet for researching new job opportunities.
Read more on social media on C+D's guide to the internet
One C+D reader revealed his company's social media policy on Twitter
@CandDEmma Writing a story about using social media professionally – some disturbing anecdotes of employers monitoring FB accounts – anyone had this?
@PharmakeusPrime I've been told to expect it
@PharmakeusPrime there's the open threat of anything that anyone can see can be reported to my superiors and then I can be disciplined for it
@PharmakeusPrime the extent to which they are proactively looking, eg. mentions of their name, I've no idea. Unsure if their comms team use their twitter account to check what I'm saying.
@PharmakeusPrime I've been taken to task for not showing enough respect for my business's procedures in an email to a friend, hence have to be paranoid everywhere