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Professionalism on Social Media

Professionalism on social media is important. Never forget that employers also are members of social media security groups and pages, evaluating what people post as well as their comments on posts. Many employers will check your social media activity if you come in for an interview or if they announce a job on social media and you respond to it. I've went back years scraping out my profile and I wouldn't be surprised if I have more pictures and posts I need to go and find and delete to professionalize my profile more thoroughly.

This isn't meant to say you need to be serious all the time. Many of these pages are meant for you to have a little fun in and employers understand that. But it should humor that is socially acceptable. Remember that social media is a form of public forum. There are also a number of serious conversations on here as well and we gauge your professionalism by how you respond. Imagine the famous Scales of Justice. One side of the scale is for hiring and the other side is not to hire. Every post and comment goes into one of those scales. I know which side I want to weigh down heavily.

This isn't to say you need to be a suck up either. I had a conversation with a colleague I respect and trust about corona virus statistics. He asked if he should stop sharing them because there were bigger names in the security industry that hold an opposing view. In my opinion, he should continue to share the statistics he sees because as a security professional I think it is ethically responsible to identify problems and share information. As an intelligence analyst my mantra was that of my community, "Truth to Power." The important part is to do so with tact. On the other hand I also understand his practical views as some people, even respected big names in the security industry are a little on the emotionally touchy side rather than having the more repressed emotional side. Some people are a lot more Captain Kirk than Spock. I'm not going to fault the guy for making a choice he thinks will get him more jobs. It's all business after all.

Additionally, we all have causes which we believe in, and every time we advocate for them we run the risk of angering someone. But would we be true to ourselves and our morals if we suppressed them? In my opinion no. It all comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. I highly value supporting causes I believe in so that is to me an acceptable risk of alienation. However, being silly or some perverse small gratification of being rude to someone has such a small benefit that to me it would be an unacceptable risk of alienation of a potential employer or client that would be a good fit for me to work for.

Some of us have blacklists of people we would never hire and people we will never share a job with or promote them to a colleague that has a job. I probably add a name to my list at each weekly, along with the URL to their profile, and a short description of what they did that makes them too risky to hire.

Personally I evaluate the issues in three forms. The worst is they are dangerous, either by intentional maliciousness or they advocate dangerous practices. Next, they will embarrass the company. Lastly, they do not seem to know about applicable rules, laws, and good practices, basically they lack the knowledge and skills to be a competitive candidate for hire.

Imagine what a potential employer thinks of a person that says they will carry a gun anyway on an unarmed post. That is an instant blacklist item for myself. That person is a civil and possibly a criminal liability for their company and client depending on what state they operate in. Racism, sexism, and other EO issues are other "Do not pass go" cards. We are in a service industry that serves a multitude of different people.

The way you look is also important. Many people post pictures in these groups of themselves on jobs. Some companies have social media policies. Many managers at some point had to work for a big-box security company so we recognize when someone is violating a company policy. That is a warning sign. Another thing; we recognize there are different jobs. There are security jobs where you can show up slick with no gear and be fine. There are jobs were you need to load for bear. But when you are loaded for bear on a job that doesn't require it that's a signal of personal issues that could lead to problems. Other things also come to mind. Morale patches and other logos can cast a doubt on your professionalism. A trainer gave me a morale patch one time that said 1* (one ass to risk.) I chuckled, it was funny, and put it with my mementos. It has no place on any uniform, gear bags, or anything else I wear or carry to a job.

Remember these forums are also occupied by competitors of your company that will do what they can to cast doubt on the professionalism of your company so clients will rethink hiring your company. Look at the investigative report series that was recently written about G4S. Competitors made sure that was shared far and wide and started making calls to G4S clients to try to get them to switch companies. I am sure G4S did lose some clients. While that was on a macro scale what you do here is still applicable on a micro scale, especially if people know who you work for by you posting selfies in uniform or like me companies you work for is listed on your profile.

This also goes the other way. For instance, a person put up a post seeking potential hires. I sent them a message. I saw how they spoke to another colleague of mine. Therefore, I recalled the message. I realized from their interaction with that colleague that there were indicators that him and I would also not be a good professional fit. It is important to show professionalism as a company owner or operations manager to attract professionals to your company.

So this is just a reminder to remember social media is an extension of talking in a public forum. Behave here how you would there. I try to pretend that every person watching me is my client or a colleague that could be a source of my next job and every action I take has a bearing on whether that client will hire me or that colleague will recommend me to a client, because that honestly may be the case. Social media is full of undercover shoppers one might say.

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