Selfies and the Workplace

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What does a selfie actually stand for? To some it is a sign of vain and narcissism, to others it can stand as a form of self-empowerment. However, used in a business sense a simple selfie can be part of ‘self-branding’ where through social media one can create an online persona presenting themselves in a way that attracts potential employers. “The notion of ‘self-branding’ involves the obstacles that people may face when embodying a sense of corporate personhood across social media and the impact of the created self putatively”. (Ilana Gershon, 2014)

Each month more than seven billion images are shared on social media sites (Rachel Woodman, 2015). And while it may seem as though social media is a great platform to perform self-exploration, individuals should be careful in what exactly they share. How a person uses selfies to portray oneself on the internet has great affect on personal brand. It just takes one poorly timed joke or picture to diminish a reputation both online and offline. With potential employers taking careful consideration of a person’s online status, the way in which an individual ‘self brands’ is crucial.

A 2011 article titled ‘Online Personal Branding: Processes, Challenges, and Implications’ further explores the importance of self-branding. The source asked consenting participants, including twelve undergraduates and one human resources professional, to judge each others social media profiles. After comparing results, the conductors of the experiment interviewed each individual to understand exactly how they manage their online profiles and how they feel about the given judgment on the content that they post. The two main social media accounts that were monitored for the experiment were Facebook and Myspace. From the results it was obvious that opinions of the undergraduates differed almost entirely from that of the human resources professional. An example is given:

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“Profile Judgment

Participant: Gina

Social judgment comments: Highly educated and interested in literature and culture. Sociable, seems to have many friends. Physically attractive, athletic, inspired by spirituality, art, and music. Driven, independent, out-going.

HR professional comments: Difficult to understand this person- not much to work with. Her favourite quotes assume she wants others to think she is not like others “from another word” …Is she showing us her body. Not her face? To me it is like many photos young women put up-their bodies.” (Science Direct, 2011)

From this research we can see that although the use of social media sites such as Facebook can be a great tool for self-exploration, using it in the wrong manner can leave individuals displeased and essentially harm their corporate persona. The content people post online, including selfies may be thought of as harmless but when it comes to potential employers can be seen entirely different.

This notion of self-branding by using social media is becoming more and more relevant. Just by searching the term itself, several articles arise informing people the ‘correct’ way in which to create a favourable persona. In November 2016 Forbes published an article titled ‘9 Ways to use social media to build your personal brand.’ The list included:

  • Find the right groups
  • Keep the image consistent
  • Engage regularly
  • Diversify your content
  • Study influencers
  • Give as much as you can
  • Ask questions
  • Jump into discussions
  • Monitor your name

(Sujan Patel, 2016)

A step found particularly interesting is the second one, keeping the image consistent. It explains that through all social media accounts an individual must maintain a certain consistency as it allows one to control a potential employer’s perception of them. If not, an otherwise impeccable reputation may be damaged.

Uploading a selfie may seem harmless, but in fact it could jeopardise an individual’s career. Not monitoring content carefully can ruin a reputation with a potential employer. Applying ‘self-branding’ into a lifestyle can create a favourable corporate persona that essentially betters a chance of finding work. In this sense, a selfie’s impact holds great power so think before you click.

Reference:

Gershon, I, 2014, ‘Selling your self in the United States’, Polar: political and legal anthropology review, vol.37, no.2, pp. 281-295

Woodman, R, 2015, Selfies and personal brand, Tag, viewed 10th March 2016
< https://www.gettagged.us/opinion/selfies-and-personal-brand/>

Labrecque, L, 2011, ‘Online personal branding: processes, challenges, and implications’, Journal of interactive marketing, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 37-50

Patel, S, 2016, ‘9 ways to use social media to build your personal brand’, Forbes, viewed 11th March 2016
<https://www.forbes.com/sites/sujanpatel/2016/11/12/9-ways-to-use-social-media-to-build-your-personal-brand/#7834511c3520>

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