Home > Articles

Using Social Media as a Career Development Tool

Ever thought of using social media to develop your career? You should. Matthew Moran, author of Building Your I.T. Career: A Complete Toolkit for a Dynamic Career in Any Economy, 2nd Edition, explains two ideas to help computer professionals use social media more strategically: add value (publish your knowledge in a helpful way) and share opportunities across your network.
Like this article? We recommend

In the world of information technology professional development, social media is often characterized as intrusive, a technology that attempts to circumvent privacy and expose the individual to “world” at large. This could be because many I.T. professionals necessarily concern themselves with issues of privacy and security. Furthermore, computer professionals are often stereotyped as generally more introverted. This stereotype is based in part on the analytical and focused nature of the work we do.

While the above may be true, social media, when used properly, is one of the most powerful tools in your career development arsenal—your “toolkit.” One thing I can assure you, it is not going away anytime soon. The names and tools may change, but digital connectivity and exposure is the norm in today’s social world.

My hope with this article is to give you, the I.T. careerist, some strategies and ideas for harnessing social media positively for your professional development. I discuss some of the misunderstandings and misuses surrounding social media, and provide some ideas you can put to use almost immediately.

Social Media Defined

In my book, Building Your I.T. Career, I define social media as:

    “Software (typically web based) to help facilitate the creation of networks or communities of shared interest or objectives.”

The definition may be imperfect, but the general idea is accurate. In short, social media connects us to friends, family, acquaintances, and professionals. It gives us a window, more or less filtered, into the lives of others—and provides them a window, more or less filtered, into our world.

This self-facing window is what causes most of the concern. There are stories of employees being fired or reprimanded for something they have posted on their social network. And it is well-understood that employers are going online to research candidates prior to hiring them.

My goal is not to discuss whether this is legal or ethical (I research prospective clients and contractors all the time). That debate may never be resolved. I am, instead, going to focus on what you can do to harness these new platforms.

It Is All Networking

Whatever the fancy definition is, all interaction, whether digital or face-to-face, is networking—as in professional networking, not networking computers and devices. Social media, even when your social network is limited to friends and families, is still networking.

This is what is important to understand for your career: Your greatest career development tool over your lifetime is not necessarily or simply your technical skill and knowledge. It is those you know who know about your skills and knowledge.

The maxim “It’s not what you know but who you know” is a cynical and limiting idea that assumes you will advance just by “knowing” the right people. I modified that phrase to a more positive thought and one you can control:

“It’s who knows you and knows what you know.”

Talk to enough seasoned professionals in any field, and they will tell you, the relationships you create and foster are your fastest ticket to the best companies and jobs available.

The Pitfalls and Perils and How to Avoid Them

Even if you limit your social network to friends and family only, it still has tremendous potential to positively or negatively affect your career. Next, I explain the pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Immediacy: The “Right Now” Factor

One of the most dangerous and powerful facets of social media is its immediacy. If you are on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen the jilted lover, angry spouse, impulsive child, ranting parent, political flame thrower, drunken party-goer, or some other variation on this theme, posting a status update that makes you scratch your head. Or maybe, you’ve been that person.

Platforms like Twitter and Facebook let us publish our ideas to the world, from anywhere at any time. Have a disagreement with your boss or co-worker, and you can let your world know about it right away.

This is extraordinarily foolish. I’ve reached out to many people who have done this and their reasons range from, “I was really angry” to “I needed to vent and get some moral support.” If you need support, reach out to a friend or two privately. You don’t need 100, 500, 1000+ “friends” clicking “like” to get support.

The truth is, social media’s immediacy is great if you wish to inform your network of some relevant news, an update on technologies you work on, or a positive career or life event. The negative and ranty post simply portrays you as a negative or ranty person. It demonstrates a lack of judgment, and I promise will limit career-enhancing referrals—the holy grail of rapid advancement.

The best way to avoid this misuse of social media is pretty simple: have a firm policy in place that you NEVER post negative comments about any co-worker, family member, professional contact, or acquaintance. Simply put, do not post negative comments about an individual.

Overexposure: Transparency Is Good, But Only So Much

I believe in personal and professional transparency. However, I often see people posting photos that are too revealing, or status updates about drinking or dating escapades. Please refrain from this.

I’m not making a personal judgment here. If you take part in some socially fringe group and its activities, that is your call—whatever floats your boat. But, unless it is a part of your professional life, I’d avoid making it part of your profile information, status updates, or photos.

A little wisdom and self-restraint go a long way.

Take a Strategic Approach

My own social networking crosses diverse territory. I have personal friends/acquaintances, technology professionals, readers, social media experts, publishing professionals, musicians, and music fans/listeners.

Your network may be similarly diverse or more focused on family and friends.

Regardless, I advocate the following mantra:

Be Proactive! Be Positive! Add Value! Share Opportunity!

You will see me repeat this often or variations of that theme.

However, let’s look at the last two. They may be the most powerful ideas when it comes to using social media to enhance your career.

Adding Value

You are a computer professional! You probably already get calls from friends and family to fix their computer when it is broken, or teach them how to use some piece of software.

Adding value to the network should be an easy and natural process. It can be as simple as notifying your peers of an important security update or concern. Taking part in conversations about technology or answering questions posted online is another great way to add value.

In a future article, I’ll discuss blogging but blogging about technology and posting educational pieces to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is a great way to add value.

Share Opportunity

Whether using social media or face-to-face networking, one of the biggest mistakes that we make is failing to pass along opportunity to others. I don’t really believe in karma, per se. But why would you expect others to share opportunity with you or respond to a need when you are not doing the same?

Unfortunately, we often reach out to our professional network only when we need help.

Stay in touch with your network when you are gainfully employed. Know what people are doing in their professional lives. If you see an article about a given topic and realize that someone in your network might benefit from it, post it and tag them. Let them know you are aware of them and what they do.

This simple idea alone positions you in the most positive light possible. You are not simply reaching out when you need work; you are an opportunity conduit. Make this a regular part of your use of social network, and I promise you, opportunities will come your way.

Common Sense

I hope that in reading this, you think, “That makes sense.” Nothing I’ve written is earth-shattering or new knowledge. In fact, most of the ideas apply not only to social media but also to social interaction of any type.

However, look at your social networks. You will discover that many do not follow these simple ideas. Caught up in the moment, the immediacy and over-exposure of social media works against their professional advancement.

If you have been one of “those people,” identify how you can alter your online persona and create a more strategic approach to how you use social media.

Pearson IT Certification Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Pearson IT Certification and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Pearson IT Certification products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.pearsonitcertification.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020