Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

Earlier last week, I bought an iPad from unofficial distributors since the Core Group (official Apple Distributors in South Africa) do not know the date of availability of iPad in SA. I hope I will find time soon to share my experience of it on this blog. For today I am going to blog from it as part of enriching the experience.

The issue today is first impressions. About 2 weeks ago I started at my new job, not that it’s really new but I’ll be working with with different people. As I continue to meet my new colleagues 2 of them told me they have met me online.

The first one told me he had accidentally stumbled upon my tweets on twitter. I am not sure how he got there but I am aware that my tweets are public, meaning they can be seen even by people who are not following me. The second colleague said he googled me, I assume after he had heard my name being mentioned among the names of the people he was going to meet.

This got me thinking further about an idea I’ve had in my mind mind for sometime about some of my friends present themselves online.

I become aware of the Internet as source of knowledge and information a long time ago. As a result, my online presence does not fundamentally differ from my physical presence, except that in real life I am bit shy than online. But the point is that I make a deliberate effort not to misrepresent myself and pretending to be something I am not online.

Hence I was not embarrassed when the colleagues told me they had seen me online already. I was relieved actually because then I had less to do to create first impression. It’s hard to manage first impressions. You don’t know what a person thinks of you. My poor taste in fashion does not help because some look at your shoes and whether your shirt have extra buttons that for decor not buttoning. Other try to put you in a certain LSM and gauge your IQ, etc. Making first impressions is really tough. Lucky for me, I have faith in this blog and my tweets to make that impression. Yes Facebook is another platform but my Facebook is not public, only faceboook friends can see what I write there, so googling me won’t give you my status updates.

I watch status updates of friends on facebook with interest knowing they are creating records about themselves on a daily basis. I know some friends are moody by following their status updates for a month. Others are sensitive due to their extreme mood swings they share on their status updates over time. Some drink a lot judging by their updates on weekends and blue Mondays. Some friends have dated 4 different partners this year alone because they share their love each time they are in love. Some friends don’t have much to say because they can go weeks or even months without updating their status or at least commenting on what others are saying, others in this group greet in the morning, share tv proceedings (especially Generations) and then say good night.

I often think in few years to come, some employers may use Facebook, or other online presence, to look beyond what the CV says about who you are. If you follow the wall activity on Facebook or your tweets do you get the idea that you are the type of person you would employ. This is a question I raised with a friend recently. You could say on your cv that your health is good. But your Facebook status updates could say the opposite due to regular headaches you update about. Too many updates and comments during office hours could be a reflection of poor work ethic on your part, meaning you spend less time working. Yes, the majority of my online activity is no during office hours. My office hours activity is only about 15% of my online activity.

Obviously, looking from an employee point of view, it sounds as a silly idea to go to someone’s Facebook to check them out before employment. However, if you look at it from the business owner in the private sector, you want to employ people that you trust and know they will work to take your business forward. Even when using short hand, which I personally hardly use, you don’t want a person with poor language abilities (this is besides genuine typos).

I am just sharing an experience that I was pleased that my new colleagues had googled me. I often google myself to check if the results still show what I want them to show. I even check Bing and Yahoo results for my search. I often manipulate the results to adjust them to show what I want them to show using Search Engine Optimisation techniques (google that), which can be a topic for another day.

As you update your Facebook, load photos, Tweet, whine, dodge work and so on, be mindful that you’re creating records of information about yourself which will last a long time and some may use for their first impression of you.

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