Although Web sites like Facebook, Linked In, and Ning are touted as valuable tools for social and professional networking, if users aren’t careful, career-related catastrophes can occur. It bears repeating that no online activity is anonymous, especially with more and more healthcare employers and recruiters visiting these sites to learn about job candidates, says Roberta Renaldy, a senior staffing specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
“They’re becoming your resume before your resume,” Renaldy says of social networking sites.
To keep career opportunities open, hospitalists should avoid dishing out “digital dirt”—aka put-downs—about other people, she says. Vulgarity, unsavory photos, incorrect spelling and grammar, angry online disputes, and dispensing medical advice also are taboo. Even strong points of view on controversial issues can run hospitalists the risk of getting passed over for a job or promotion.
“Someone might be willing to take this risk, but I encourage people to really think before they express their opinions,” Renaldy says.
On the flip side, hospitalists should create a personal brand that’s compelling and consistent across their social networking profiles, says E. Chandlee Bryan, a certified career coach at the firm Best Fit Forward in New York City. Be accurate about expertise and keep visitors interested by providing constant career updates, she says. Always thank network contacts for the slightest bit of advice, and don’t hesitate to offer others help, Bryan suggests.
Renaldy emphasizes the old-fashioned approach. “Using the Internet is a way to spark a networking relationship, but many times it doesn’t develop the relationship,” she says. “Nothing replaces face-to-face contact in furthering your professional career.”