We’ve all seen them in the media – those unfortunate souls who let a mad Facebook moment blow a hole in their career prospects.
There’s the Australian man whose recent rant about Pokemon Go not being available in Singapore got him sacked, and the woman who complained about her boss on Facebook – forgetting that she had added him as a friend.
Most social media mistakes are far less sensational than these. They relate to slips of the tongue, careless posts, accidental ‘sends’, over-exuberance and poor choice of words.
So let’s take a look at how careers can be harmed by embarrassing and tasteless social media errors.
1. The mighty gripe
We all love to complain. And social media provides the ultimate platform for whingeing.
With multiple channels available – think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for starters – all offering immediate access to your audience, it’s far too easy to dash off some words, click a button and watch them fly.
But once out there, you have little control over their spread.
Don’t be fooled by ‘private’ channels either. It’s just as easy to share content as it is to post it. It only takes one person in your private forum to share, and your whinge is on its way to multiple destinations.
If it finds its way to co-workers, managers and current or future employers, your rude complaint about fat people on the bus will not bode well – especially when applying for a job with a weight-loss firm.
Regardless of content, such moans are seen as immature, thoughtless and unprofessional by the broader business community.
2. The shaming game
Ridiculing others is not cool, even when you think they’re fair game. And ridiculing people within the workplace is quite simply a career killer.
Apart from keeping personal integrity intact, mocking customers or having a go at your boss or work colleagues on social media is an absolute no-no in terms of your current and future prospects.
It’s amazing how quickly these kinds of posts work their way back to those being lampooned. Anyone who knows the people involved is likely to forward or share such posts.
It’s simply not worth the risk. Recruiters increasingly check out candidates during the talent acquisition process by browsing their social media channels, and anyone found badmouthing work colleagues, bosses or customers will be frowned upon.
The thinking is: ‘If you can do it to them, you’re likely to do it to me too.’
Such behavior tells future employers you are indiscreet and untrustworthy. And who wants to employ someone like that?
3. The risky business
It seemed funny at the time, that laugh-a-minute photo where you’d all had too much to drink and life seemed beautiful.
Somewhere in the back of your mind, you maybe thought you could delete it in the clearer light of day.
Unfortunately, however, it was shared immediately by several friends – and several trolls too.
So now you have a photo of yourself screaming at the top of your lungs and dressed in not very much at all circulating endlessly in cyberspace, ready to be seen by any number of work-related people.
Which is not a nice possibility when you’re dressed in city-smarts, determined to impress colleagues, boss or recruiter with your highly professional approach.
4. The careless share
Social media has lots going for it. But it has a tendency to make us lazy and complacent.
When it’s so easy to scroll through our newsfeeds, grabbing content from here, there and everywhere, it’s tempting to overlook its origins.
Being time-poor is no excuse. It’s essential to track back on every image, quote and copy you repeat or share. You might just have an unpleasant surprise when you see where that image or fragment of text has come from.
What if your telecommunications employer discovers you’re promoting content from an arch rival? Or an alternative energy recruiter finds you’ve been blindly sharing material put out by traditional power companies?
So take care of social media, and talk to us if you’re seeking your next opportunity and want to make sure your online presence doesn’t put off potential employers! Next month, we look at more ways to upset employers and recruiters via social media, involving broadcasting job offers, plagiarising and blurring the lines between your personal and professional life.