Social media can be a boon for your job search. You can network with multitudes with one click on the keyboard. But while this medium can serve as a helpful tool, if not used with discretion it has a dark side. No longer is it uncommon for employers to check out your web activities long after you've taken off that interview smile and hung up your proper business suit. Will you fit into their company culture? Will you represent them in a way in which they can feel confident and proud? If you are currently employed, you're not exempt. A social media misstep could preclude a potential promotion or even worse. For job seekers, it could break the deal. It's simple. Think before you post. Use the privacy options provided on these sites to your advantage and never leave your profile open to public viewing. But, even after you've taken privacy measures be prudent and particular about what you send to cyberspace, once you push the send button it's often difficult to retrieve. Who has access? Who's paying attention? Be smart, not sorry. Don't let social media work counter your goals.
Seven common mistakes to avoid:
1. Co-worker/boss bashing: All of us have bad days from time to time and relationships with fellow workers can sometimes present a challenge. Resist the urge to post uncomplimentary co-worker stories or boss-bashing jokes. Don't name individuals, even if it's only a first name. Never personalize a put down on this platform. This mistake could backfire on you.
2. Photo faux pas: You have some great sexy photos of yourself and you want to post them on your website. A little provocative, maybe, but some might consider them artistic and edgy. No big deal, right? Think again. Not only might this not go over well with an employer, but you might regret it later. It's best to keep these photos in a place where you know where they are and those who shouldn't see them won't.
3. Party time: You were out last night with your friends and you had more than a few beers. You've got pictures to prove it. There you are dancin' on the table, a beer in one hand and a shot glass in the other. After all, it was your birthday and a celebration was in order. Don't post. It's best that your employer continues to think of you as that responsible individual he hired or wants to hire. Don't change your image and ruin his day.
4. Language lapses: Keep it clean and respectful. Boring, maybe, but in the long run it may be the best thing you do for yourself. When an employer hears you cursing and spewing off four-letter words like a drunken sailor it sends a bad message. Words speak volumes. Language matters.
5. Political/religious insensitivity: You love politics and who doesn't appreciate a good joke? So you post political humor on Twitter and Facebook so that everyone can laugh along with you. Not so fast. Stay neutral or just stay silent when you are in a position to land a job. Avoid political endorsements and steer clear of controversial topics. Be sensitive to all religious viewpoints and cultural values. Yes, you have a right to your opinions, but save them for a time when you are with friends and family in a private setting. It's in your best interest.
6. No leaks please: You just learned the latest strategy for your company's product launch. You're excited to be in the know. Be careful that you don't leak sensitive or confidential information in a moment of weakness. Not everything is intended for public knowledge. Damaging to your employer? Maybe. A regrettable mistake for you? Yes.
7. Hot topics: Hot topics happen daily. Somebody did something, somebody said something and it's gone viral. You can't wait to chime in. Think first and avoid having to defend or explain an off-handed comment that went over badly. It may be a joke in poor taste or just a misconstrued remark. It makes no difference. It's always awkward to have to backtrack and apologize later. Remember, you can offend many people with one click.
A final word of advice: Google yourself on occasion. It's a good idea to monitor your public profile for purposes of damage control. If you stay levelheaded and prudent there will be no need for it.
- Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional who has worked in the employment field for more than 20 years. She is a trainer coach and job developer. Email questions to email@example.com.