Don’t follow Charlie Sheen if You Want to Land a Job

Posted by Kate Jurras on Tue, Apr 5, 2011

Guest post by Dan Jackson, Human Resources Assistant at Communispace. Dan is involved in all facets of the recruiting process, employee training and employee relations. When he’s not at work, he spends his time playing guitar in a local Boston band and catching up on reruns of Two and a Half Men. This post is part of our Digital Works: Careers in Digital Marketing, Technology, and Media Series. This series profiles the skills and experiences that make careers in this industry exciting, and provides advice to job seekers from the area’s foremost employers and experts.

tiger blood2 resized 600What gives you the appearance of having tiger blood and Adonis DNA to your prospective employers? In the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Charlie Sheen rants on national television, it seems like nothing is off-limits anymore. But despite the pop-culture insanity over the last few weeks, I’m convinced that you can learn a thing or two from Mr. Sheen about using social media when hunting for your next job.

First and foremost, it’s probably not in your best interest to go on Facebook and start posting off-color status updates. Contrary to popular belief, and no matter how successful you are, you are not an F18 fighter jet, bro, and you are certainly not a warlock. I can’t stress this enough. However, one piece of Sheen’s message does translate into this terrestrial realm: you need to project confidence. In the world we live in where everything you’ve ever done is documented online and viewable by potential employers, you need a way to separate yourself from the masses (and not have those pictures on Facebook come back to haunt you!). Try to stand out in a positive way by posting relevant and thought-provoking updates—not just letting people know you’re on your way to the supermarket. Knowing that Communispace, a company of 330 employees, received nearly 10,000 resumes in 2010 alone makes this separation become increasingly important.

Another piece of wisdom that can be imparted from Sheen’s public debacle is that social media is a tool that can be extremely helpful, but also unbelievably detrimental. Sheen’s Twitter account was the fastest in the world to reach 1 million followers (in just over 24 hours), and currently sits at about 2.5 million. While some might think this is great publicity, I equate this to the “car crash syndrome” – car accidents are horrible, but I dare you to look away! Morbid curiosity alone is the reason for Sheen’s rise to Twitter prominence (which is disgusting and fascinating all at the same time), but the point is that you need to use social media to your advantage.

Most of us won’t ever have anywhere near 2.5 million followers, but you’d be surprised how far your reach can go, even with fifty (the "six degrees of separation" theory comes to mind). The point is, you have access to a really powerful tool and you shouldn’t abuse it, because employers will see it. Follow interesting people, tweet interesting things, and most importantly, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your mother hearing you say.

Finally, as Charlie Sheen helped us realize over the past few weeks, there is a very fine line between confident and arrogant (or, in his case, crazy). In my experience, the only way to successfully manage this line is to really know your stuff. It seems totally cliché, but when you’re going for an interview, do your homework on the company! There is nothing that screams “not a good fit!” more than a candidate who doesn’t have a clue what the company does. Alternatively, a candidates who thinks he knows everything is also a major bust (no one likes an egomaniac). The miniscule amount of effort it takes to go on a company’s website and do a quick Google search goes a really long way. When you’ve done some research, you can be more articulate in an interview about how you can contribute to a company's business. Subsequently, you appear more confident about your potential role, and I can promise you that interviewers will pick up on this.

Charlie Sheen may have gone off the deep end, but if you read between the lines (and the absurd Twitter updates), there is definitely some truth in what he’s saying. My favorite quote to come out of the last few weeks is when he said, “They’re the best at what they do and I’m the best at what I do. And together it’s like, it’s on!” Albeit horribly out of context, is this not the most perfect mindset to have when looking for a new job?

Like what you hear? See how you can start “winning” at Communispace!