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Q&A: Putting Social Media to Work for Your Career

Have you ever been asked whether your social media profiles are resume-ready? Polishing your social media presence is a process that mostly involves common sense. For instance, the general public is aware that posting photos from the latest wild party is a risky choice. The last thing you want hiring managers to come across when Googling you—and they will Google you—is a rage-fuelled, work-related rant.
As DECSA’s Communications Specialists will be quick to tell you, though, preparing your online presence for professional scrutiny is more complicated than removing offensive content. Today, our Community Relations team will be presenting a FAQ about shaping and maintaining a professional but personalized online presence.

Do hiring managers really care about what I do with my social media profiles?

As it turns out, they care an awful lot. One study found that 93% of hiring managers do some degree of online digging before contacting interviewees. If you don’t pass this initial screening, you won’t even be considered for an interview—and as you can imagine, that will take a serious toll on your career. In this competitive job market, you have to remember that your resume might be one of dozens or even hundreds, so you have to make an exceptional first impression before you’ve even met your interviewer(s).

Where should I begin?

The first step is probably the lengthiest. Before you start sending out resumes, you should conduct a purge of all your social media profiles. Flag any potentially offensive or unprofessional content that is open to the public. Adjust your privacy settings to manage what people can see. It’s fine to be uncensored in private spaces, but social media is rarely as private as we’d like it to be.
Remember to Google yourself to find out what has been posted about you. While you can’t control every word that’s linked with your name, being aware of what’s out there is essential. Knowledge is power.

What kind of content could get me in trouble?

Well, there’s the obvious stuff: take down or hide any unflattering photos; employers won’t be charmed by that keg you’re posing next to. Get rid of that profanity-filled rant you published in the heat of the moment. While no one expects you to be upbeat and positive all the time, it’s a good idea to keep the outrage to a reasonable level.
We should warn you that there are innocent-seeming posts that can turn employers off very quickly. Remember that time you tweeted about how talented you are at procrastinating? How about that Facebook post describing your less-than-stellar organizational skills? Everyone is human and therefore imperfect. Hiring managers ought to keep that in mind, but broadcasting your flaws for the world to see could jeopardize your career, especially if your field depends upon organizational skills and a healthy respect for deadlines.
Even if your online presence isn’t objectively offensive, your views and behaviour may not align with company culture, and that could become a stumbling block down the line.

Would it be safer to simply delete or lock down all my accounts?

Definitely not! While we don’t advise disregarding your right to privacy—we’re ardent proponents of work-life balance—we recommend that you keep at least some of your online presence public. It’s perfectly acceptable and even wise to designate one or more of your accounts as a safe space to detach from professional matters, but it’s beneficial to dedicate an account or two to showcasing yourself as a valuable member of your industry.
Share informative material that’s relevant to your chosen field, follow influential industry leaders, and take advantage of online networking opportunities.

So you’re saying I can’t be myself online?

Actually, your personal brand will thrive if you present yourself as authentically as possible. Hiring managers are interested in more than your academic credentials and work experience. They want to select someone who will be a suitable fit for their organization, so letting your personality shine through is a significant career asset. There’s a difference between being attractive to the professional world and stifling your identity. You can have the most impressive resume around, but if you don’t come across as a cooperative, positive contributor to an organization’s culture, chances are you won’t be getting that call-back.

All of this seems really complicated. Is social media more of a threat to my career than a benefit?

Don’t be discouraged: it’s simpler than it sounds, and if you think strategically about what you post, the maintenance will seem like a breeze. In the end, you have to put social media to work. Approach your online presence like the marketing tool that it is. Establish an online portfolio, keep your LinkedIn account up-to-date, and feel free to share professional and personal accomplishments. Use social media as a space for putting yourself out there. If you make the necessary effort, you’ll certainly reap the reward. Take it from us: social media is your friend. Treat it like one.


FAQ: Disclosing Your Mental Illness at Work

Work is good for us. There is evidence that it makes us happier, and while mental illness can hamper your ability to work, you really should if you can. Disclosing your mental illness might feel like a lose-lose situation: you must reveal sensitive information about yourself, and your boss must figure out how to deal with it. The stigma surrounding mental illness doesn’t help, either. Despite numerous campaigns, articles, and attempts to educate the public, myths and misconceptions are difficult to dispel. There’s certainly a possibility of negative consequences, so it can be a frightening prospect.

Barriers can take many forms“If it’s so risky, why should I tell?”

Perhaps the most pressing reason is that if your mental illness interferes with your work, you are obligated to disclose it. This is actually meant to help you; telling management that you face performance issues and require accommodations will make your job easier. You have a responsibility to let your boss know so they can support you.

Another compelling reason is that, by disclosing, you have an opportunity to educate others. Your productivity can prove to your superiors that mental health issues are not an insurmountable obstacle. You can lead by example, and reduce stigma at the same time.

“What should I say?”

There are several approaches you can take. It all depends on the nature of your illness and how comfortable you are with exposing personal information. If you struggle with the idea of being vulnerable, you can use general terms. You don’t need to be too specific. You only have to talk about what is relevant to your work situation. You are not even required to name your illness, if you don’t want to.

Talk about your strengths. While you do need to discuss the ways in which your illness will affect your performance, you should also point out the ways in which it won’t interfere. Make sure your manager is aware that you are still an asset, not a liability.

Stress that your illness is not a symptom of a bad attitude. Help them understand that at least some of your issues are beyond your control and that, while you’ll try to give it your best, there will be times when you struggle. Make sure you explain how this can be dealt with.

Two women chat in the business lounge.

Sit down in a comfortable space and have a frank discussion with your manager about your mental health struggles.

“How can I help my boss understand me?”

The first step is to tell them about your specific needs and preferences. Be honest and forthright about the accommodations that will help you do your best work. Chances are, they won’t know much about the topic, and they definitely can’t know what you’ll require unless you tell them. Don’t make them guess.

It’s a good idea to present them with brochures and other educational materials. Different sources of information are helpful, especially if you find it difficult to share that information yourself. This may also help them get past any deeply-ingrained beliefs about mental illness, which may be out of date or simply wrong.

“I’m still not sure about this…”

Disclosing mental illness will never be easy, but trust us when we say that failing to do so is the bigger risk by far. It causes intense anxiety in most cases, but once it’s over, there is an excellent chance you won’t regret it. It may result in a more supportive environment, and once the required accommodations are in place, you’ll be a happier, more productive employee. We know it’s hard, but be brave and take the leap. You’ll be glad you did.

Looking for Employment? Join ASSETS FOR SUCCESS Before August 21!‏

PLEASE NOTE: As of August 21, intakes for our Assets for Success program are closed for the year.

If you have a mental health condition (depression, stress, phobia, anxiety, etc) and employment is your goal, then Assets for Success is the program for you!

Am I eligible for this program?

  • Albertans 18 years of age or older
  • Unemployed or marginally employed (less than 20 hours per week)
  • Not eligible for Employment Insurance
  • Self-disclosed mental health condition

Call us at (780) 474-2500 before August 21 to enrol!

Watch our new video below for more information.

Nothing Beats Confidence!

We are honoured to have Confidence Coach Shirley Borrelli join us here at DECSA (11515 71 Street) on April 30th at 2pm. Shirley will be presenting on how to increase your chances of getting hired by projecting confidence, even if you don’t feel it! All are welcome to attend.11009082_466971186787882_1958501650160680295_n

Preparing for an Interview

Going to a job interview can be nerve-wracking for a couple reasons. Interviews don’t come around very often, so most of us don’t have much practice with them. Also, interviews are full of unknowns. We can’t know exactly what they’re going to be like until we’re in them. Fortunately, we don’t have to be afraid because we can do several things before an interview to help us prepare!

A good interview starts a week or two before you sit down in front of the interviewer. Here are five things you can do to make sure you are ready for your interview.

  1. Make sure you remember the job description. You want the interviewer to see that you can do the job. You have to remember details about the job so that you can show the interviewer why you can do the job well.
  2. Research the company. By showing that you know about the company, you prove to an interviewer that you are interested in this job, not just any job. Learn these three things:
    – What are their mission, vision, and values?
    – What products and services do they provide?
    – Have they been in the news recently? What for?
  3. Practice interview questions! Most interviewers ask similar questions. If you can answer quickly and thoroughly, you will sound confident, organized and knowledgable. Lots of sites give examples of interview questions. Click here or here or here for common interview questions. If you practice the interview with a friend or family member, that person can help you improve your answers. If you don’t have time for a mock interview, try practicing out loud in front of a mirror. Doing this will help you remember what to say and how to say it.
  4. Think of questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers will give you a chance to ask questions at the end of an interview. Asking questions shows that you’ve been thinking critically about the job. Try to think of anything you would like to know about the company or your job. Ask yourself, “How will I fit into this job?” “How will this job fit into my life?” “Was there anything in the job description that I want to know more about?” By asking yourself what you’d like to know, you’ll find good questions to ask the interviewer.
  5. Imagine Success! Deliberately imagining yourself doing well during the interview actually helps you do well.

If you prepare for an interview, you will feel calmer and more confident during it. Click here for more information about decreasing interview anxiety.

Whether or not you get the job, you can leave your interview knowing that you did well. You prepared as much as you could, and performed as well as you knew how. Every interview helps you learn more about being interviewed and gives you the chance to practice.

If you need a place to do research for a job interview, visit DECSA’s Community Resource Center. We provide free access to computers, Wi-Fi, fax machines, photocopiers, newspapers, reference materials, and a job board.

Good luck, and stay tuned for Tuesday’s blog post.

Francine is Enjoying the Assets for Success Program

Image“My teacher is wonderful. She’s funny. It feels like she’s a twin to me because we’ve experienced the same stuff,” says Francine, a participant in DECSA’s Assets for Success program. Tanya, Francine’s “wonderful” facilitator says, “Francine is eager to learn, and she is very enthusiastic in every aspect of her life.” Through the Assets for Success program, Tanya and Brigjilda, Francine’s case manager, are working with Francine toward her goal of finding a consistent job.

Assets for Success provides individuals who identify themselves as having mental health conditions the support they need to find and maintain suitable employment or education.

Through Assets, Francine has been learning many life management skills including problem solving, time management, personal development, goal setting, and stress management. She is also developing short term and long term work-related goals and actively applying for jobs with guidance from Tanya and Brigjilda.

Francine is learning alongside other participants with similar goals. “I made friends with some of my classmates,” Francine says, “If I have a problem, I can talk to them.” DECSA works to create an environment where participants can learn and grow at their own pace. “The atmosphere is friendly, and most importantly, a safe haven to all of our clients. The clients are known by name, and are supported in every way,” says Tanya.

If you are unemployed or underemployed and have a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder, an anxiety disorder, or depression, phone us at (780) 474-2500 for more information, or email DECSA at

Assets Update!

There has been very exciting progress for both the Assets for Success program staff and our participants alike!  The program has completed the first round of Life Skills workshops and currently entering Career Planning. Our next orientation is May 5, 2014 at 10AM; please call our Intake Line for information and registration (780) 474-2500 Ext: 604.

The Assets for Success team has invited Glynnis A. Lieb Ph.D to come to give a presentation on Mental Health and Addiction.  Glynnis is the Executive Director of The Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction, and will be joining us on May 13th from 1:00 pm to 3:15 pm . She will be bringing a co-speaker with lived experience to share their story with us regarding their challenges and their journey to success.

There will also be another guest speaker coming to DECSA in the month of May. Gwen Villebrun, M.Sc, is a registered pychologist, who will be delivering a workshop on “Healthy “Relationships”. The workshop will take place on May 8th 2014 from 1:15 pm until 3:15 pm.

Nothing is impossible.  Even the word itself says “I’m Possible” (Audrey Hepburn)


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