Be professional or be yourself?

BeYouOn the first day of most post-secondary programs, there is a mandatory lecture about professionalism. In Creative Communications it's especially emphasized because we are required to put stuff up on the Internet. And the Internet is like an elephant—it never forgets, so we are admonished to post carefully. It's good to remember that potential employers are most likely doing due diligence before they hire you. They want to see what kind of person they're dealing with before they give you the thumbs up.

When I think about being "professional" in my online dealings, however, it kind of paralyzes me. It makes me feel like I have to hide myself. It reminds me of my early days as a pharmacist when I was playing that role dutifully in my white lab coat. It felt fake, and that's just not something I'm willing to do again. The jack is out of the box, and this girl's not going back in.

So here's what I do. Before I post something online, I ask myself:

1. Is it kind and respectful?

2. Does it reflect who I really am?

3. Could someone benefit from reading/seeing this?

4. Is it funny without over-sharing? (I admit, I'm an over-sharer. Often it makes people feel comfortable around me. But sometimes it's just too much.)

If I can answer "yes" to these questions, I go ahead and click publish. When potential employers read my stuff, I want them to get the essence of me. I want them to know what to expect when I enter the work environment. I like to joke around, I don't take myself too seriously, and I'm expressive.

If I try to be ultra-professional, it'll come across as stiff and disingenuous, and possibly even pretentious. That's just not me, and that's not the kind of environment I want to work in anyway.

I'd like to hear what you consider before you post stuff online. Do you have your own questions?