Advice line: professionalism online and in social media

Léonie Dawson warns that being a professional is a 24/7 activity.


For CSP members

Working with members can bring up unexpected issues. While covering the CSP professional advice service recently, I received a couple of queries from CSP members who wanted to ask perfectly standard questions to do with professional practice.
They presented themselves in email and phone as responsible professionals keen to retain their grasp of current evidence and best practice.
But their email addresses were along the lines of 'knowitall' or 'foxyfilly'. It made me wonder if either had put much thought into the first impression they might have given, as their emails land in inboxes.
Email addresses are potentially more powerful than many realise, especially if created when still a youthful, fun-loving student.
What appears carefree when sending messages to buddies may be viewed in a completely different light by a potential employer, patient or, horrors, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
A barrister will use anything to hand to knock a person’s credibility and confidence in court, and a flighty or arrogant email address is fair game to use as a weapon.

Twitter, job applications and email addresses

Even more public are tweets and other media communications, where people can sign up to follow you. They might not wish to be seen following a dodgy- sounding account, regardless of the content.
A job application, for example, could be severely sabotaged if an email address projects an image that conflicts with the skilled professional approach we wish to present to the public and a potential employer. 
So before you send out your next message, consider clicking on ‘properties’ and reminding yourself what first impression you might be giving. 
The HCPC regulations state that we should convey ourselves in a professional manner throughout the day, and you could be doing yourself a great favour by checking that your monikers live up to this. 

  • Léonie Dawson is a CSP professional adviser

Further reading

Social media guidance

Léonie Dawson CSP professional adviser

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