Social media communities are a veritable mix of both personal and professional contacts. Unless you have taken special steps to ensure that you have private personal accounts (Twitter for example allows you to hide all posts from public view), chances are that you are going to be sharing with a mixed crowd. It is both an opportunity and a hazard for career professionals.
If you are a business professional, you already have some sense about the importance of creating an online persona for personal career benefit. Being active on social media and sharing your thought leadership about your industry is an attractive quality to recruiters and potential employers. It demonstrates that you are committed to professional development and fostering relationships within your industry. If you are doing that daily on social, consider it an investment in your online reputation that enhances your professional appeal to employers.
Unfortunately, many great candidates have had opportunities lessoned by inappropriate activities on social media networks. Some have even lost their jobs as a result of their comments. From a recruitment perspective, here are some of the things from our “what not to do” list, to help candidates avoid problems.
Chat (But Do Not Spat) On Social
The opportunity to meet new people around the world and network with other professionals (and potential employers) is well worth sharing on social. However, an argument, profanity or threats on social can be taken very seriously. Some types of posts can also land you in hot water with the authorities. Disagree in private IM if a text conversation takes a turn for the worse, but avoid having spats in public on social. That is exactly the kind of thing recruiters look for, when evaluating a potential candidate.
Illegal Behavior Captured On Film
It should go without saying that underage drinking, the use of illicit drugs or participation in vandalism, racism, violence or illegal activity should be avoided. Engaging in the behavior and documenting it on social media? It is definitely a career limiting move which damages your professional and personal reputation.
Social Media Has a Long Memory
Have you ever posted something and then regretted it? Depending on the social network that you are sharing on, it can be easy to delete the post as though it never happened. A few people may have read your post or commented, but in most cases, you can limit the impact of a “post in poor judgement” by deleting it as soon as possible.
One of the problems with social media posts however is that they are cached by search engines. Everything you post publically on social media networks (assuming you do not have privacy settings in place) can be found on Google, Bing and other major search engines. Even deleted posts can be retained in cache for a period of time.
The best rule of thumb? If the post is cringe worthy or one you would feel uncomfortable having a human resource manager (or recruiter) read, it’s better not to post it at all.
If you have enjoyed our tips, leave a comment below. Is there one type of behavior that you see on social media that you think is particularly unprofessional? Share your insights with us.