Work & Career
10 Social Media Moves That Could Completely Sabotage Your Career
It’s true: Landing that dream job, a promotion, or a raise could be put in jeopardy if you’re sharing questionable things on your social media accounts. Here, career experts share their best advice for editing yourself, stat!
Remember: your social media accounts are an extension of who you are
Part of what sets apart a good job from a great one is how compatible you are with the vibe of the company. Employers look for culture fit as much as they check your references and confirm your credentials, and that includes a thorough stalk of your social media accounts. While this can be a big perk in some ways, it could also be a turn-off, depending on what you’ve been up to lately. “Your social media accounts reflect where you are in your career and how you present yourself to the world,” explains Vicki Salemi, career expert at monster.com. “Profiles can positively impact your status as a job seeker if you’re posting things that show you’re an influencer in the space, knowledgeable, and friendly,” she says. “On the other hand, if you’re constantly posting snarky things with somewhat of a negative tone, that won’t bode well in your favor when an employer is trying to get a more complete picture of you as a prospective hire beyond the one-dimensional resume.” Find out the photos you should never post on social media.
Employers are looking for red flags online
Admit it: If you’re currently single, swiping, and looking, once you figure out your potential match’s name, you’re tempted to Google them. While a dating expert would probably warn you against this deep dive online, the HR rep at your dream company might do the same thing to you but in a different way. They’re probably not as concerned about your ex-partner, but more so, keeping a careful eye out for any deterrents they shouldn’t hire you. “More often than not, an employer will search for someone on social media. They want to get a better picture of who you are help to explore your candidacy further. They look for any red flags like inappropriate comments or posts,” Salemi says. “These can be viewed as a reflection of not only who you are, but the potential inability to handle yourself professionally—this is true even when you think a comment or post is more personal than professional. At the end of the day, yes the lines are blurred, but even a posting about a food you’re allergic to on Instagram is professional—employers can see how you word a sentence as well as get a sense of your voice.” Here’s how to have a healthy relationship with social media.
Never complain about your job
Sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of the bed: You walk into the office, exhausted, chugging coffee, and nothing can change your mood. It might be tempting to vent online, collecting thumbs up, but Salemi says it’s a big no-no if you’re trying to advance your career. Never post something like, “This meeting is a total waste of time” or “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back!” “This only shows you in a negative light and could definitely make an employer pause and think,” she says. “Instead, leverage that frustration to network in a positive way and commit to applying to jobs that evening.”
Don’t friend request someone you just interviewed with
You know that feeling when you crushed an interview: Not only did you answer each question with confidence, but you and your could-be boss had many things in common. While it’s tempting to connect with them on Facebook to keep the mojo running, Salemi says to hit pause instead. “There are certain boundaries within social media, and this is one of them. If you connect as friends once you’re hired, it’s still a slippery slope and too soon anyway since the relationship is just getting established. Plus, what if you don’t get the job or what if you do and you turn it down?” she explains. And if you do connect, there’s an additional hazard to be aware of: little white lies. “For instance, it will raise eyebrows if you blow off a work-related event, let’s say because you said you were sick, and attended a birthday party of a friend whose photos you’re tagged in.”
Don’t be a jerk
When someone posts a link, a photo, or a statement that you wholeheartedly disagree with, it can be super tempting to put them in their place. And while getting the final word might be gratifying, if you do it inappropriately or meanly, it could dissuade a possible employer from meeting with you. “Don’t post rude or offensive comments on any of the channels of social media. As a good human being you shouldn’t, and as a prospective employee you should know that this is easily searchable and a representation of who you are to your future employer,” advises Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of Ladders.
Don’t make silly spelling mistakes
Even if you’re not a copywriter, editor, or advertiser, there is one solid fact that carries through all professions: basic spelling and grammar proficiency. You might not think that using the wrong ‘there’ on an Instagram post would attract the attention of an employer, but Salemi says think again. “When I was a corporate recruiter, regardless of how sparkling a resume was with relevant experience and spot on skills, if there were typos and errors, it was game over. The same applies to your social media accounts,” she says. “Sure, you may post a spectacular photo of beautiful sunset in Greece, but if there are errors when you post, employers too may think you’re not detail-oriented.” On the flip side, here are social media mistakes that aren’t as bad as you think.
Don’t forget to follow companies you lust after
If you’ve always wanted to work at Google or there’s a local agency in your hometown that just kills it, don’t you want to know what they’re up to? Salemi says that by making an effort to like its Facebook company page and follow them on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter, the employer will note your attention to detail and your dedication. And another perk? It’ll help you get to know the company’s style, making you better equipped and prepared when you finally do snag that interview. “Many companies have Twitter feeds showcasing their latest openings, plus you can gain tremendous insight into their corporate culture by the tone, voice and nature of their postings,” she explains.
Don’t just share stuff about you
One way to indicate to your boss or the boss you want to have that you’re an expert in your field is to show them how involved you are in the industry. This could be showcasing yourself as an influencer, sure, but Cenedella says a better idea is posting content that will inspire other people around you. “Do post and share articles that are helpful to other people,” Cendella says. “This demonstrates that you understand that you are part of a community and that you are adding to the value of the platform.” Another smart idea? Commenting. “You don’t want it to be a monologue, but a dialogue,” Salemi says. “Interact, have a conversation, participate in Twitter chats or comment/regram Instagram posts,” Salemi says.
Don’t neglect your tagged photos
While your bestie may mean well posting that video of you drunk at karaoke on Instagram or Facebook, keep a careful eye out for what they’re tagging you in and if it’s appropriate. While you might worry it’s rude, your pal will understand as you try to work your way up the ladder. In fact, Cenedella says it’s not a bad idea to let your friends know that you’re job searching or up for a raise and you’d prefer if they’d leave you out of the fun for a while. “Make sure to have your friends aware you don’t want to be tagged in such photos either. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, and it is so easy for your future employer to make a snap judgment about your professional capabilities based on your personal images you share with the world,” he advises. (Find out what your social media profile really says about you.)
Don’t forget to do a monthly audit of your privacy settings
Social media is a rapidly changing industry, and with it, your control over it’s near-daily transformations lessens. While you can always change your privacy settings, you need to make sure you’re consistently staying up-to-date on what’s visible, what’s not, and what your Google search is looking like. “Remember that private today may not be private tomorrow based on how that platform uses your information, so be conscious about what you are sharing and posting. Also remember that actions on public pages are visible to everyone,” Cenedella says.