Caught in the Scroll: The Dangers of The Social Media Takeover

Disconnect to Reconnect…

“Hi, I have received your email. Hold on while I put down my drink, get off my day bed, find my laptop, ignore my entire family, and reply. Oh wait! I’m not going to do that ”… Is what one of the posters reads for the new British Airways’ campaign: Take Your Holiday Seriously.

In an era where the boundary between work and personal life is becoming increasingly blurred, the need to redefine work-life balance is more critical than ever. The relentless influx of texts, emails, and tweets, coupled with the constant connectivity facilitated by smartphones, has created a digital web that many find challenging to escape. British Airways' campaign, "Take Your Holiday Seriously," resonates with the struggle we all face when trying to disconnect and truly enjoy a well-deserved break.

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From checking work emails throughout dinner, to responding to Slack messages during your self-care evening, the boundaries between work and personal life have become increasingly blurred, thanks to the omnipresence of social media and smart phones.

Redefining Work-Life Balance in the Digital Era

16 million texts, 156 million emails, and 456,000 tweets are sent out every minute. To say we are constantly connected would be an understatement. “We’re not designed to be connected all the time” explains Emily Nagoski, co-author of Burnout, “but people have become used to that, so when they’re disconnected they get a sense of anxiety or panic they’ll miss something essential.”

Consider a Personal Assistant, Executive Assistant, or Private PA, diligently working around the clock to cater to the needs of their busy employer. These roles already demand constant attention and availability, but with the development of digital technologies, there is an even greater pressure to be reachable and responsive at all hours.

Indeed, there’s a certain allure to the idea of juggling multiple tasks at once, problem solving on the fly, and constantly being in demand. For many PAs, EAs and Private PAs, the fast-paced and hectic nature of their work is not just a requirement; it’s a source of exhilaration and fulfilment.

However, amidst the appeal of constant busyness, it’s essential to recognise the importance of taking a moment to ourselves. No matter how hectic our schedules might be, we all need moments of quietude to centre ourselves, reflect on our priorities, and recharge our batteries. Whether it’s taking a walk, practicing mindfulness, or simply indulging in a moment of solitude, prioritising self-care allows us to show up as our best selves, both professionally and personally.

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The Grass Isn’t Always Greener…

The incessant comparison fuelled by social media adds another layer of complexity. The curated nature of online content can lead individuals to perceive their peers' professional lives through a distorted lens. It's essential to acknowledge that every career journey has its ups and downs, and comparing oneself to others based on selective online snapshots can be misleading. According to research by Ualbert, approximately 90% of women and 60% of men compare themselves with others when using social media.

Envision a PA, EA, or Private PA, scrolling through their timeline only to stumble across yet another elegant photo of a PA attending a fancy event with their boss. In that moment, feelings of envy or inadequacy might arise, as it appears that others are living a more glamorous professional life. However, the curated nature of social media, where individuals only share the highlights of their experiences, often creates an illusion of perfection and success, whilst excluding any challenging components.

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“It’s very difficult to just focus on yourself and your own goals [instead of] what everyone else is doing […] “Of course everybody is just posting their highlight reel; they’re not posting those mundane or challenging elements of their work” – Emily Miethner (Social media consultant and founder of FindSpark and MCG Social).

In posting that photo, what that PA chose not to include, is the likely invested weeks of preparation and meticulous planning for the event, working to tight deadlines, across long hours and in high-pressure situations.

In reality, every career path has its ups and downs, and comparing oneself to others based on selective snapshots on social media can be misleading. It’s essential to remember that the grass isn’t always greener and to focus on appreciating your own professional journey, with all its challenges, quirks and triumphs.

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Tread Lightly: Managing Your Digital Footprint for Professional Success

When we see newsworthy headlines like ‘Executive Assistant Steps Down Over Inflammatory Facebook Post’ or ‘Receptionist resigns Over Offensive Tweets’, it’s easy to criticise those individuals for their irresponsibility and think ‘that could never happen to me!’

It’s often assumed that as long as you refrain from sharing explicit, X-Rated photos or discriminatory tweets online, that you’re immune to the threat of losing an existing or potential job opportunity.

However, the normalisation of casual interactions on social media has lulled many individuals into a false sense of security, where they often overlook the potential consequences of their online behaviour. Whether it’s commenting something thoughtless on a friend’s photo, over-sharing personal information, or even circulating photos from a protest, digital footprints on social media can have lasting repercussions on one’s career trajectory.

In the role of a Personal Assistant, Executive Assistant or Private PA, your online presence on social media platforms is significant. As an ambassador for both yourself and the individual you support, how you present yourself online reflects not only on your personal brand, but also on the reputation of your employer. In today’s digital age, the ramifications of our online presence cannot be overstated.

Leave footprints in the sand not on Facebook...

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Employers aren’t just looking at your CV anymore, they’re scrolling through your timelines…

Employers and recruiters routinely scour candidates’ social media profiles as part of the screening and hiring process, seeking insight into their values, personality, and professionalism. A survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 70% of employers believe that every company should screen candidates’ social media profiles during the hiring process. And it seems logical. After all, social media screenings are like the backstage pass to a candidate’s personality!

According to Matt Erhad, Managing Partner of Summit Search Group, when he checks a candidate’s Facebook or Twitter, his ‘aim is to get a sense of them as a person’ rather than ‘to look for damaging information’. So while hiring managers are rarely actively searching for detrimental revelations, it is important to share content that reflects your personal brand.

For example, Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants, and Private PAs develop a close direct relationship with the individual they support. Given this proximity, the use of social media can serve as a unique opportunity for PAs, EAs, and Private PAs to showcase their personality and interests, providing potential employers with valuable insights into their character and compatibility.

It’s not just a matter of wiping all your profiles out of fear… Firstly, nothing posted online is truly immune from being re-discovered, as screenshots and digital footprints can easily resurface and be circulated. And secondly, Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants, and Private PAs without a social media presence could be at a disadvantage compared to thousands of EAs, PAs, and Private PAs who actively engage with their communities.

While the temptation to erase online profiles may arise, it's essential to recognize that nothing posted online is truly immune from rediscovery. A strategic and mindful approach to online presence, particularly on platforms like LinkedIn, allows professionals in these roles to showcase expertise, connect with industry peers, and convey passion for their work.

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In fact, 1 in 5 employers in The Harris Poll’s survey stated that they would refrain from interviewing a candidate who was not discoverable online. Without an online presence you miss out on opportunities to showcase your expertise, connect with industry peers, and demonstrate your passion for your role as a PA, EA, or Private PA. Employers might have the backstage pass to your personality, but it is your presence on the stage that makes it a performance to remember!

Navigating the digital landscape requires a delicate balance. The key lies in embracing the benefits of connectivity while actively managing one's online presence. By prioritizing self-care, embracing the authenticity of professional journeys, and thoughtfully curating digital footprints, PAs, EAs, and Private PAs can thrive in the digital era without compromising their well-being.

If you are looking to hire an Executive Assistant, Personal Assistant, Private PA, or any level of office support staff Knightsbridge Recruitment would love to help.  Please contact one of our recruitment consultants on 020 7468 0400 or email us.

Knightsbridge Recruitment is a boutique consultancy which has been placing stand-out candidates in the most sought after permanent and temporary Executive Assistant, Personal Assistant, Private PA and executive office support jobs in London, for over 35 years.

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