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LinkedIn. Facebook. Twitter. Email. IM. Text messages. Blogs. The list goes on.
Data driven by you, and about you, is everywhere. And it is increasingly an organizational instrument that employers — or perspective employers — ply with a bevy of data analytics tools to determine your value, influence or motivation within and outside an organization.
A recent article in Fast Company describes Influencer, a new software tool by Salesforce.com that measures an employee’s influence. It is not so much how many status updates someone posts to a corporate social site — volume can be a drawback — but more an amalgamation of posts, Likes, shares and other attributes that determine an individual’s sway.
Another company, Cataphora, uses big data to model employee behavior. Its software shows a contextual relationship between data — emails, spreadsheets, IM, phone calls, wikis, expense reports and the like. It builds a digital character for each employee that is mapped against a model of the organization’s normal behavior. The result: any deviations from normality are detected. This can produce a variety of findings, from who the really skilled managers are to who is involved in risky behavior.
Algorithms that measure influence and motivation are part of a new group of analytic tools — from pre-employment analytics to on-the-job assessments — that can help a company determine your value throughout your career.
If these tools do become, as I believe they will, a fact of life in organizations, what are those data attributes that you should be aware of — and those you should avoid — as you build your digital footprint?
To learn more, I spoke with Elizabeth Charnock. In addition to founding Cataphora she has written a book, E-Habits: What You Must Do to Optimize Your Professional Digital Presence (McGraw-Hill, 2010).
One big point to consider in building a digital persona, says Charnock, is aggregation — the way you assemble and publicize information about yourself over time. She provided the example of online resumes.
“Especially during tough economic times, people tailor their resumes. It’s a logical thing to do. But what you are doing is going back in time and changing what you’ve said about the past,” says Charnock. “The effect of it, whether it’s honest or resume puffery, is you can have at least 30 or 40 different versions of your resume floating around on the Internet.”
These varying digital personas can be derived from anywhere — your resume on LinkedIn to comments you’ve posted on news stories. “I honestly think, in each case in which someone is potentially creating long term problems for themselves, it is the same issue: someone is thinking solely about a very short term objective, failing to see that this stuff is going to aggregate in some fashion they can’t imagine,” says Charnock.
So what should you keep in mind as build your digital persona? Really think about how you want to present yourself — your digital character — and then be very consistent about it, says Charnock.
Being someone who is deliberate and thoughtful, or who shoots from the hip, or is very knowledgeable in a certain area — these are all conscious decisions, Charnock says, “Nobody is perfect in all of the ‘good’ dimensions. And that assumes that many people could agree on what a good dimension is. So decide who you want to be and stick to that. If you want to be a provocateur and piss people off, go for it. But do it consistently.”
What then are the digital behaviors you should avoid like the plague? “Co-mingling,” says Charnock, be that friending your boss on Facebook or combining work and personal email. “It is the worst.”
It’s also good practice to do a gut check before posting — not something we all practice religiously as our methods of digital communication increasingly become ingrained habits.
CareerBuilder recently conducted a survey which found that while candidates may be aware that potential employers are viewing their social profiles, they might not realize that their online personas are costing them a job. A third of the HR respondents said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate, including:
- 49% shared provocative or inappropriate photos or information
- 45% listed information about drinking or using drugs
- 35% had poor communication skills
- 33% bad-mouthed a previous employer
- 28% made discriminatory comments
Cataphora, by the way, has developed a downloadable app, Digital Mirror, which generates a visual model of your digital behavior patterns at work. How? By modeling your digital communication style. Check out a Digital Mirror demo movie.
We’re interested in hearing your thoughts about this new type of tool.