Is There Still A Personal/Professional Line?
An interesting division became apparent last week when I asked “Who are you online?” Of the different people who commeted, roughly half said that they acted differently online to offline. Some of the comments from that side:
- “I am careful with networks that are open and searchable (Twitter, e.g.) to not say anything that might hinder me in the future.”
- “I pride myself on staying true to my beliefs, but I will change what I say and how I say it depending on the group I’m in.”
- “I try to keep it industry related as I’m trying to learn as much as I can from all of the PR professionals that I’m fortunate to have access to.”
- “Regardless of the medium, I always assume my professional contacts may come across what I say and how I behave online.”
- “I definitely act more professional online than I do in my everyday life.”
- “Personally I am very different online than offline. It’s not that I’m a bad person or anything offline, I’m just less colorful when I’m online.”
It’s hard to stay professional at all times. Working late last Friday night, I got mad at my computer when it started playing up just as I was about to leave the office, and I vented about it on Twitter. I then got mad at myself (offline) for venting online. Does that reflect poorly on me? Or is it perfectly acceptable to show that you’re human occasionally? Meanwhile, I know I frequently self-censor after re-considering things I’m about to post.
This raises some interesting questions when it comes to companies using Internet research during their recruitment:
- If online content is written with employers in mind, does it really reflect the person?
- Should we disregard online content when recruiting, or is this another way to find the people with the smarts to be professional online?
- Perhaps most intriguingly: Should employers and clients respect the line between professional and personal? Does that line even exist any more?
What do you think?