BTW, Professionalism Still Matters, LOL! Social Media and Other Forms of Electronic Communication Should Aid Your Career Advancement, Not Hinder It

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In this age of technology with email, texting, Twitter and Facebook, we are able to communicate with people without always being face-to-face. While this has opened the door for easier communication with people throughout the world, it has also created a culture that lacks professional appropriateness and generosity. There are times when professionals in our field have lost sight of how to communicate with potential employers and coworkers in a manner that reflects our ability to complete tasks, take initiative and indicate our knowledge about conceptual matters. Therefore, it is important to rethink how we, as young professionals and students, communicate with others in a manner that is professional and competent. We need to examine proper communication etiquette--written, verbal and nonverbal--as we prepare to expand our opportunities for career growth or acceptance to graduate school.

While electronic communication such as email and social media allow increased exposure, we must be even more mindful of the messages we are sending, intended or not. The more professional you consider yourself, the more others will as well. Consider your email address. Whether it is pink-leopard@hotmail.com or recreation_rocks@gmail.com, employers are looking for professionals who can represent their agency and community in a positive way. While these email addresses may have naive intentions, they do not show that a person is ready for a career. It is best practice to use some form of your name when corresponding via email.

Social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become advertising staples for many park and recreation organizations, including NRPA. It is also a great way to advertise your skills and abilities to potential employers and others you meet during networking opportunities. However, be aware of your image on Facebook and know who has access to your information. A common misconception is that using a pseudonym makes you invisible in the cyber world--unfortunately, fake names are often very easy to crack. Additionally, as professionals, we need to be aware of who has access to your photos, messages and other things you may "Like" on Facebook. Oftentimes, this can be public information. Many fellow professionals may not serve as a reference for people who share such information because they do not want to be associated with someone who lacks professionalism.

Communication is also vitally important in showing others that we are professional and take what we do seriously. While face-to-face or verbal communication is best when conveying important information with others, it is not always an option. Therefore, many park and recreation professionals rely more on email and other text correspondence than ever before to share ideas and provide essential details about our programs and facilities. …