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Transparency in the Digital Age
By: Ryan Stoldt
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Transparency. It’s a word that you hear almost daily. It seems to be the one thing everyone wants from the government, businesses, and their significant others. It’s something that most people avoid giving out, though.
Last week, one of my coworkers added me on Facebook. As she initially visited my profile, she came up to me and told me I was crazy for having most of my information publicly available. I asked her why she thought that, and we talked about it for a little bit. The gist of the conversation revolved around creepers and professionalism.
When employers are looking at job candidates, they’re likely looking for a variety of things: skills, previous experience, communication, professionalism, connection with the team, and much more. Resumes and portfolios are a perfect place to give skills and previous experience. Cover letters are decent way to show professionalism and the ability to communicate. Interviews are a great way to highlight everything. The problem with using those tools as your only strategy is that you have to earn an interview. Without it, your strategy isn’t complete.
No one will argue that employers look at social media before they get in contact with someone before an interview. They want to know what you’re about before you get there. Now comes the issue with transparency. I constantly hear that people need to set all of their social media sites to private. Only people that know you should be able to see into your life.
I think that’s the wrong approach.
Let’s say that a hiring manager just looked at your resume and cover letter. They want to get a better feel for who you are, so they visit your Facebook page. From previous experience they know to expect a limited profile. Instead, they find an open profile that shows the way you interact and communicate with people on a daily basis. You have now given them a lot better picture of the person you are. They will have an idea of who you are, and they will also see something that can never be undervalued in an employee — you have nothing to hide.
Some of you are probably thinking that is an awful idea for a variety of reasons, but let’s take a general step back. Social media is, at its most basic, a way of socializing. Consider for a second that, regardless of the century, socializing occurs in places where you don’t know everyone. Imagine you’re at a party. Unless you’re throwing it, there’s a good chance there is someone there you don’t know. You have the opportunity to build a relationship with someone you would otherwise would not. Social media is the same situation.
Sure, there are the cases where being transparent is bad, but there is a happy medium between putting your address and times of day you will be home on a site and showing the interaction between you and your friends on Kid President’s March Madness video. Be smart, watch what you put on your pages, and let the world see you who for you are. Your future employers will appreciate it.

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About the Author
Ryan Stoldt is a digital strategist with a B.A. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Wichita State University. Find him online here
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