Social Media Causing Generational Shift in How Professional Behavior is Defined in the Workplace
The article, "What Does 'Professional' Look Like Today?" written by Allison Fine for the Harvard Business Review provides a compelling perspective about how the use of social media is changing how professional behavior is defined in the workplace with three generations working together in the workplace. Professional behavior is described as the expected dress or attire, the jargon or how the business language is spoken, tools taken to work such as a briefcase or more recently a Blackberry or iPhone and, most important according to Fine, keeping one's private life private. As a Career Advisor reading this article, I thought about how this generational shift in professional behavior relates to, and over the past few years, has changed the job search process for candidates. For employers, I thought about what its impact will be on the entire recruiting and hiring process.
Fine views the shift in professional behavior as more of a psychological issue than a technological one relative to how social media is used between the three generations. As the generational shift in defining professional behavior evolves, she compares the old professional with the new as follows:
|Closed to the world
|Open and accessible to the world, strengthening my relationships with people
|Can't make mistakes in public
|Human, when mistakes are make mistakes, quickly and sincerely apologize
|Don't reveal my personal interests to the world
|Interests, hobbies, passions make me interesting and attractive
|Expected to have the answers to questions
|Searching for answers with my network of colleagues and supporters
Power is taken and held
Power is shared and grown
|| Source: "What Does 'Professional' Look Like Today"
In my Employer Relations role, I frequently speak with employers about
how they use social media tools like linkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to
recruit candidates. I am increasingly reading and hearing from employers
that they are successfully using these social media tools more to
As a Career Advisor at the UIAA Alumni Career Center we speak about
using social media to effectively develop your brand and manage your
career. According to Jobvite’s Social Jobseeker Survey 2011, job
seekers successfully used Facebook 78%, LinkedIn 56% and Twitter 46% to
find their current job. So what does this mean for the candidate? For an
older professional in transition, especially if unemployed for at least
six months or more, using up to date job search methods, such as
LinkedIn, may be just as important as keeping your skills current.
Similarly, for a younger professional in transition, especially if
unemployed for at least six months or more, the issue may not be whether
social media is being used, but rather evaluating the degree of
transparency your online presence is revealing to the employer. It’s
alright to be open about your social life so long as what you say and do
online does not negatively influence an employer’s mind during the
recruiting and hiring process.
Clearly the whole idea of being transparent and open when using social
media to manage your career, will be interpreted and implemented
differently across the generations. From the job search process
perspective, issues to consider with this generational shift in
professional behavior include: are social media tools being used and how
transparent or private is the candidate being?