You love Instagraming, posting on Facebook, and tweeting, but did you know that what you share could spark negative fall out on the job? If a boss or co-worker sees something questionable, your next social event might be an uncomfortable meeting in the HR office. A communication expert reveals eight social media mistakes and offers his solutions to avoid self-induced career suicide.
1. Accepting friend requests from co-workers
If Facebook is your playground for outlandish vacation photos, and questionable opinions, don't accept friend requests from co-workers, or your boss. Sure, everyone likes to let their hair down, but posting scantily clad selfies, and iffy comments might make your work associates question your judgment.
Brent Purves, CEO of Stir Communications Group
, a Vancouver-based internet marketing and web solutions company, says that you can protect your professional reputation even further by avoiding scandalous content altogether. "There's so much misinformation and confusion about "privacy settings" on social networking sites these days, so a good rule of thumb is to operate under the opinion that everything is public, period," he says.
2. Tweeting about a potential job offer
You just received a jaw-dropping job offer
. You're dying to tweet about this pending triumph, but you might want to put your bragging on hold until you sign on the dotted line.
Job offers are usually confidential, and tweeting about something that's on the verge of happening might result in your potential boss labeling you as untrustworthy, or gossipy. Even worse, your behaviour might result in the offer being revoked. "No matter what your social network privacy settings are, there's a good chance your future employers can see some or all of your online activity
," says Purves.
3. Complaining publicly
Twitter is rife with people whining about their bosses, co-workers, customers, and daily tasks. Bellyaching over social media is a bad move because a potential work mate, or employer might see such posts. Why would you want to be known as someone who publicly grumbles about your workplace? If you tweet
and complain about your current job, you'll probably tweet and complain about your next position and boss, too. It's future career suicide. 4. Blindly sharing content
Be careful when sharing other people's content. "Often we scroll super-quickly through our newsfeeds and share memes, [but have you] ever clicked through to see where it originated? If you share content without caution, you might be sharing something from an original source that's contradictory to your views, ethics, or your business' mandate," says Purves. To protect your reputation, take the time to see where your shared tidbit came from before posting. 5. Posting tasteless comments or content
Remarks that are off colour, or tasteless can make you appear rude, or insensitive - hardly the top traits employers are looking for. It's also key to remember that social media blunders can land your resume in the ‘reject' pile. "It's common practice for hiring managers to do a quick Google search of a job applicant's name before calling them for an interview," says Purves. "Google yourself
, and make sure what comes up is content that you're comfortable with."
6. Posting nudity
"We always say: Don't put anything online you wouldn't comfortably share with your Grandma at the dinner table," says Purves. Top of the list is nudity. Posting suggestive photos of you or your friends won't earn you a corner office or a pay raise. It's also a bad idea to privately share naked images with other people.
"In many cases the person in the photos wasn't the one who did the posting. There are awful public shaming sites (such as "The Dirty") where your likeness and name can be slandered. A thorough Google search can turn up things like this and you can take action to have it removed, but it isn't easy," says Purves.7. Not knowing your company's social media policy
Failing to follow your company's policy can result in job dismissal. "Your boss has a corporate social media policy that tells employees what online activity is permitted. Read it! If you break your company's social networking rules, you risk losing your job," says Purves. And before you join a new company, check out their policy. If they have a strict code of online conduct, and you can't imagine your life without a sassy Facebook timeline or Twitter feed
, maybe the job's not the right fit for you. 8. Tweet now, think later
It's easy to dash off a quick tweet or Facebook rant without much thought. Don't! Pause before you post. "This rule is one that we should all follow. Review before you post," advises Purves.
"Spelling and grammatical errors in your posts make you look careless." Every tweet, Facebook comment and blog post promotes you and your ‘brand.' Be careful, and you'll keep your professional reputation intact.
For more social media tips, check out how to do social media the right way