Social media is something that some of us have had longer than we've had a 401k. It's followed us through different periods of our life, from our mismatched college days, to our post-grad blues, even through job number one, and potentially job number two. While perhaps you have started to forget about some of those posts you made long ago, when you were certain only your close friends could see them, you might need to dig them up and decide whether or not you should get rid of them before they come back to haunt you in the future.
Wondering how your old social media profiles and posts can resurface, just like that ex-boyfriend you thought you'd never hear from again? Here are five ways they can get in the way of you and your career.
1. Potential Employers
The days of potential employers calling you in for an interview based on what they read on your resume and cover letter are over. Now, employers take to the internet to find out what you're up to and what you have been up to in the past. With just a few clicks and twenty minutes or so, HR departments can see all the way back to photos you once posted inside your Freshman dorm, a decade or more years ago, or photos of you drinking way too much, way too often, way too regularly.
Regardless if you remember taking them, there may be images of you posted from college friends with public profiles that are still linked to yours. A clean sweep means checking your own past albums as well as all the images you may be tagged in by others.
2. People You Network With
The same things goes with people you're interested in networking with. Perhaps you find someone you'd like to have as your career mentor or you are looking to create relationships with potential investors, they too may be hesitant to sit down with you based on social media posts. Or, you may notice that midway through your meeting with them, they bring up something you posted at 4 AM, one night, as a joke, that is not coming back to haunt you. Trust us, one of the first things potential colleagues do with your business card is to Google your name.
3. As Blackmail
We've read the headlines again and again of people losing jobs because of something they Tweeted years ago. Whatever you have posted on social media, even if it was just supposed to be something to make your friends laugh, can be something someone else screenshots and sends around your company or hands over to a news reporter - if they are trying to bring you down.
4. Past Opinions Represent the Present
A lot of people write, "The opinions expressed here do not represent my company or organization" on their Twitter profile. Another reason why you should go through your old social media profiles, regardless if you are still active on them or not, is because you don't want past opinions getting in the way of whether or not a company is eager to hire you to represent them in the future. Add the disclaimer just to be safe.
5. They May Be Out of Date
Your personal brand is your selling point to help you step up your career game. Making sure what it put out there on the internet, from you, accurately represents you, is something very important. You want to keep your personal brand message consistent, making sure that when people stalk you via social media, what you portray is truly what you are. A good way to make sure your personal brand is up to date is to compare your LinkedIn profile with your resume, and ensure that your most recent title can be seen across your active social media profiles.
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.