Nearly everyone is on social media these days, enjoying the connections it offers to friends and family. With that said, it can also wreak havoc on careers and job searches for those who aren’t careful about what they post. What may seem harmless to you may be offensive enough to others that it could prevent you from getting the new job you really wanted—or even losing the great position you already have. Below are some tips on how to avoid the biggest mistakes on social media that could cost you big time.
If You Can’t Say Something Nice …
In the movie Bambi, Thumper’s mother reminds him, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” This is a good rule of thumb for using social media. You look bad if you speak negatively about your boss, your employer, or your colleagues. This is a huge mistake because even if you aren’t direct friends with your coworkers or supervisors, you could share friends—so they could still see your posts, even if you have your privacy settings properly set. In addition, negative comments about your company, customers, or colleagues are viewed poorly by recruiters and could even cause you to be terminated from your current position.
“Bad-mouthing previous employers and bad-mouthing customers is never acceptable,” said Tamica Sears, an executive coach at Sears Coaching and a human resources manager with more than 15 years of experience. Sears, an HR manager for a major publishing company in Phoenix, said she has seen such posts lead to employees being fired. She said to remember that you are always representing your employer whether you are on the clock or not—and that what you post is a reflection on them, particularly when you have posted on your social media where you are employed.
Another social media no-no is to post your personal political views online. This can be especially difficult during a contentious election year like the one we just experienced in 2016, but posting your political opinions has the potential to negatively impact you professionally. In recent polls, recruiters revealed they would view a job candidate poorly who supported a particular candidate they didn’t agree with. Know that sharing your political opinions could negatively affect your job search.
“What people don’t realize is that when they are posting things that are of a highly political nature or things that may be deemed racist or derogatory, they are really shooting themselves in the foot,” Sears warns. “It’s a digital record that will follow them. Even when people delete those posts, other people will have taken screen shots and reach out to their employer to let them know what they have done.”
Thank Your English Teacher
For those of you who learned proper grammar and spelling, thank your English teacher—because these skills count in the job market. Recruiters reported in a recent study by JobVite that they frowned upon spelling and grammatical mistakes, and 76 percent of them said it would affect their hiring decision. While this probably won’t hurt your current position, it could keep you from being considered for that promotion or new job.
No Drinks, No Drugs
While some drugs such as marijuana and alcohol may be considered more socially acceptable than in the past, keep them off your social media. Recruiters view these in a negative light according to the aforementioned JobVite survey, which reported that drinking or drug use on a candidate’s social media is likely to impact their hiring decision. This could also lead to serious problems with your current employer who could terminate you based on such behavior.
Let It Go
Social media is not the proper venue for duking it out with your nasty sister-in-law or an old flame. While some people love to watch a good fight unfold on social media, it’s terrible for your personal brand. You are in control of putting your best foot forward, whether for your current employer or for potential employers to see. Just as companies have to market themselves, you are doing the same with social media—and no argument is worth sullying your personal brand and damaging your career potential.
A Quick Response
Everyone is busy these days, but we all need to make it a priority to respond to requests or messages in a timely fashion. Waiting too long to respond can seem rude and even cost you a shot at the position you want. To retain a professional appearance online, I recommend setting aside 15 to 20 minutes a day to check your social media, respond to posts, and return messages. Always try to respond within 24 hours if you can.
Which Media to Use?
There is a multitude of social media platforms you can utilize to promote your personal brand online. I tell my clients that it is not necessary to be on every one. Do a little homework and pick the two or three that best fit your needs. When it comes to job searching and career networking, LinkedIn is a must. Other than that, keep it simple and choose platforms that you find easy to use, and don’t bite off more than you can chew in 30 minutes or less each day. Also, be aware that each type of social media appeals to a different audience. When considering which social media to utilize, think about who you wish to reach.
Know Your Reach
Keep your posts and photos professional regardless of which platform you choose to use. Your current employer as well as potential employers often check social media to determine your work experience and attributes. While some social media is more personal such as Facebook, you still want to keep it clean. If you wouldn’t share it with your grandmother, don’t post it. You want to present a personal brand that represents your stable and balanced lifestyle.
Social media wields great power in our society and the job market. By knowing what is acceptable online, you can stop potential mistakes in their tracks and build a personal brand that makes you shine. Recruiters want to see your best attributes and hire employees that will make them look great too. Employing common sense and expanding your professional network on social media will help you turn today’s career goals into tomorrow’s accomplishments.
I believe you deserve a career that brings you joy, fulfillment, and the ability to live your best life. If you’re having a hard time writing your resume or your current resume isn’t generating the response you’d hoped it would, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website for help now.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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