News We Can Use: Poll Shows Importance of Networking for “No Regrets”

According a survey released this week, a vast majority (71 percent) of recent college graduates would have done something differently while in college to better prepare for the job market. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed wish they had done more networking prior to graduation; about a quarter said they should have started their job search earlier and about the same wished they had applied to more gigs.

But, whether you’re about to don a cap and gown or you’re just thinking about graduating to your next opportunity, this is absolutely news you can use to better your own career:
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One-on-One Interview: Dan Schawbel, Personal Branding Guru

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we share tips and advice from friends, colleagues and key experts in PR and beyond. One person who has great wisdom on how to brand yourself is Dan Schawbel, the founder of Millennial Branding, LLC & author of Me 2.0. We caught up with him recently to get his insight about personal branding and leveraging classic PR and marketing techniques to stand out in the workplace.

What skill or technique have you, yourself, used to get ahead or get a job?

The best technique I learned was to gather new skills outside of work that would be relevant to my internal career path. I was stuck in a product marketing role and wanted to be in social media marketing back in late 2007.

By starting a blog, establishing myself on social networks, and then constantly marketing myself every single day, I became a better marketer and more valuable to my company. The result was that I was able to create my own unique role within my company called “social media specialist.” Ever since then, I’ve been following my passion, honing my skills, and have been continuously innovating.
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SAVING FACE(BOOK): WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTS CREATE PROBLEMS AT WORK

We all have bad days, and it’s just so easy to post “My boss sucks” or “I’m so sick of my job” on Facebook, Twitter or your personal blog.  But is it grounds for termination?

Within the past month, several workers across the country have been fired for airing their dirty workplace laundry on Facebook, from Dawnmarie Souza, an EMT in Connecticut who complained about her supervisor, to a woman named Jessica in Michigan who was let go for calling a coworker a liar, to Leila Goodman in North Carolina who vented about her CEO.

Interestingly, the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Souza’s employer, noting that firing her was unfair because she made the disparaging remarks on her personal computer outside of work hours and the company’s policy on social media was too vague.  Whether or not she was within her legal rights to post negative comments about her boss or company on Facebook, the point is that it’s just not a smart thing to do.

In our upcoming book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Hired, Noticed & Rewarded at Work, we dedicate an entire chapter to social media and how to use it (and not use it) when you’re trying to get noticed in a positive way in the workplace.  In public relations, we consider everything on the record, even if it’s whispered to someone at a cocktail party or posted innocently on your blog or Facebook page.  Everything you say online becomes a matter of public record and lives forever on the Web so we would encourage you to keep your gripes to yourself — or share them with your spouse, best friend or mom instead of with your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

According to an August 2009 study conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder.com, 45 percent of employers surveyed are using social networks to screen job candidates — more than double from a year earlier, when a similar survey found that just 22 percent of supervisors were researching potential hires on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn.  The study, in which 2,667 managers and human resource workers participated, found that 35 percent of employers decided not to offer a job to a candidate based on the content uncovered on a social networking site.

So why would anyone want to give potential employers a reason not to hire them or current employers a reason to fire them?  What do you think?  Should companies be permitted to scold or terminate someone for criticizing them online?  Are employers overreacting?  Are people within their first amendment rights to air their work grievances in a public forum?  Tell us your thoughts.