How Social Media Can Hurt Your Career
by Jennifer Parris, career writer for FlexJobs
You’ve put all of your Facebook settings to private. You’re uber careful about what you tweet and post (fairly) G-rated images on your Instagram. So you should be fairly safe if a potential hiring manager were to ever scroll through your social media accounts, right? Wrong.
It’s estimated that the majority of job recruiters (93 percent, to be exact) check out social media profiles of prospective candidates as an everyday part of the job interview process. And even if you think that your accounts are all pretty clean, there’s a good chance that there might be something lurking in past posts/tweets (or worse, unflattering pics that friends post of you) that could cost you a potential job—or get you flat-out fired from your current one.
In the Time article “10 Social Media Blunders That Cost a Millennial a Job—or Worse,” writer Susie Poppick profiles ten true-life stories of job seekers and employees alike who used social media and had it come back to bite them. Here are just a few examples of mistakes made—and lessons learned.
Don’t complain about your job online.
Everyone has had a “money job”–one that pays the bills but doesn’t fulfill the soul. Even if you hate your 9-5, don’t do what a British teen did and kvetch that your job is “dull” in a Facebook post. Although she didn’t mention the name of the company she worked for, she lost her marketing job. So even if your job bores you to tears, keep it to yourself, or better yet, vent to a friend—in person, not online.
Don’t get caught!
The sky is blue, the sun is shining—in short, it’s too gorgeous a day to be stuck indoors and working. And frankly, who hasn’t played hooky from work at least once in a while? Thing is, don’t tell your boss that you can’t make it to work because “something came up at home” and then post an FB pic of you whooping it up at a Halloween party, like one bank intern did. Even though he didn’t lose his job, he lost a lot of credibility at work. If you need a break from your job, just take the day off—and stay off of social media, too.
Don’t get confused.
As part of your job, you’re responsible for your company’s online presence. Sometimes, you might dash off a quick breaking news story on your company’s Twitter account, and other times, you might tweet out some keen observations on your own account. Just make sure that you don’t mix up the two, like a contracted social media strategist for Chrysler did. He made a personal (and rather negative) observation about the ineptitude of Detroit drivers—and tweeted it out on Chrysler’s feed. He lost his gig, and given the gravity of his goof, made a potentially big black mark on his career for future hiring managers to see.
Don’t drink—and post.
You like a nice glass of rose after dinner. Just don’t post a pic of yourself holding said glass on social media, though. A Georgia teacher was asked to resign from her job because of a Facebook photo of her holding a glass of wine and a beer (her FB settings were set just to Friends). Even if you’re over 21, it’s not a good idea to show yourself drinking, since potential employers might find these photos and make a judgment call (even an incorrect one) that could cost you the chance of getting hired.
Social media can be amazing for your career when it’s used the right way. So be careful about what you post online so you can avoid career-killing mistakes and celebrate all of your job successes instead.
Jennifer Parris is a career writer for FlexJobs, an award-winning service that helps job-seekers find professional opportunities that offer work flexibility, such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time or alternative schedule jobs.