Since its inception, Social Media has taken the world by storm and what might have once been a clean line between the personal and professional in the online world is now irreversibly blurred by the usages of social media to further your personal brand or to market your business products.
When it comes to careers and job hunting, the grey area gets greyer: as whether you believe it is ethical or not, more and more employers are using social media networks to assess whether a candidate is a viable cultural fit for their firm or keeping an eye on current employees to ensure they are not casting the company in a poor light.
So, what are the most common mistakes people make in regard to Social Media?
1. Not Reading the Social Media Clause in the Contract
When you sign an employment contract, most companies have a clause for Social Media. This usually outlines such features like:
- How the Company defines Social Media.
- What they define as reasonable usage of Social Media within working hours.
- What constitutes violations including: bringing disrepute to the company, internal bullying or discrimination.
- Release of confidential proprietary information.
- Permissions for what company content can be posted on personal pages i.e.: promotional material, pictures of colleagues / internal spaces etc.
One of the most common mistakes employees make is not fully reading or understanding the terms of their Social Media clause. Ensure you thoroughly understand your responsibilities regarding company policy and if you don’t, ask your manager.
If your company or the company your about to sign on with doesn’t have an official SM Policy, request a written document outlining their protocols.
2. Bad-Mouthing their Boss, Colleagues or Company
Seems like something we shouldn’t have to write about, but there have been numerous documented cases of staff being shown the door for poorly chosen comments about their boss, colleagues or company online (even when their boss is one of their “friends”).
Sufficed to say, this sort of behaviour generally doesn’t go down too well.
3. Posting about Wanting or Looking for a New Job
Along the same lines as the above, posting “I think I need to reconsider my job / find a new job” maybe doesn’t send the best message to your current employer if they have access to your social pages. If you are wanting to tell this to your friends or seek their advice on your career, consider private messaging, or just waiting until you see them in person.
4. Not Changing their Privacy Settings Prior to Job Hunting
As recruiters, this is one of the most frustratingly common mistakes we see job hunters making. It doesn’t matter how perfect you are for a role if the company you’re applying to checks out your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and sees you posting comments, photos or videos that don’t align with their company culture or vision.
We can hear you say it – “what right do they have to be looking at my personal pages?”. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. We’re not here to debate the ethics of this (if we did, this article would be substantially longer). We’re just here to tell you it is becoming more and more prevalent.
For your own sake, either censor your content or make your page as private as possible before starting a job search.
5. Inappropriate Posts or Language
Whilst you might get a few “likes” or “lols” from your friends, your boss and / or colleagues may not get the same kick out of seeing a video of your game of Goon of Fortune over the weekend or appreciate your use of colourful language as you rant about the traffic or some other misadventure within your life.
Along the same bent, most companies have very strict policies about anti-discrimination, so they will probably frown upon anything you write that could be considered rude, sexist, racist or exclusionary.
6. Poor Writing / Editing:
Seems trivial doesn’t it if you think that your Social Media pages are personal and just there for a bit of fun, but the truth is, poor writing skills even on social media can reflect badly.
Whilst you may write completely differently in the workplace, an employer or potential employer might consider it as a truthful representation or worse, assume that you are just too lazy to take the time to pay attention to proper grammar.
How can you Safeguard your Social Media Accounts?
There are a couple of basic options. Either censor everything that you post or keep it completely private.
If you want to have your boss, colleagues, distant working associates connected through your personal page, then you need to very carefully consider what you are posting. This means thoroughly understanding what might be considered inappropriate or cast you in a bad light.
This is doable, and if done well, it might actually help your career if you are posting well informed comments about your industry and rich content that is positive and “business healthy”. It is however, a very difficult balance.
Keeping it Private:
Whilst nothing on the internet is ever “truly” private, if you don’t want the hassle of having to constantly curate your posts, change your account settings to their most private possible and don’t add anyone you work with. It might seem overly fastidious, but if you really want to post whatever you feel like, this is your only solution.
This also means ensuring your posts can’t be shared to people outside of your connections and ensuring people have to request your permission to see your content.
Agree? Don’t agree? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch either through the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org