Once upon a time, if you did something stupid, you didn’t have to worry too much about it coming back to hurt you later in life. If you had an offensive picture in your yearbook, or published some bizarre political opinions in an obscure school newspaper, those items would likely get buried in a library somewhere, never to surface again.
Now, however, the Internet preserves everything. Things you posted years ago can haunt your employment opportunities today.
What’s more, with people posting their every thought online, a momentary lapse in judgment can quickly escalate into a career-altering event. A thoughtless approach to social media can hamper your ability to get jobs and could jeopardize a position you have.
There are some simple rules you can follow to keep your social media presence from negatively impacting your career prospects.
Is it Worth the “LOLs”?
Why do you use social media? For most people, the answer doesn’t go much beyond amusement. It’s a way to have fun and connect with people.
Your posts can easily make their way to your bosses and co-workers. As such, you have to decide whether the potential laughs you might garner from each tweet or Instagram post will be worth the prospective danger to your career
There are a few basic rules to keep in mind.
Don’t complain about work. Don’t mock company policies or your bosses. And don’t lambast your co-workers. You can get away with that stuff when you’re complaining to your friends and family over dinner. But social media makes those negative comments public – you’re inviting long-term trouble just to blow off a little steam.
Beyond not posting anything specific about work (at least nothing negative), there are some general topics to avoid on social media. Avoid offensive or emotionally-charged issues. Don’t take aim at any particular groups of people.
Basically, assume that HR sees everything you post.
You may see a sharp division between your work self and your home self. That’s not how your employer sees it. To them, you represent the company wherever you go. If you post something vulgar or embarrassing, it will reflect badly on them and you can expect them to take action.
Watch Out for Old News
You don’t want to answer for opinions you expressed when you were a dumb teenager. But social media makes it possible for past items to pop up again and cause trouble.
It’s a constant theme in Hollywood these days: celebrities losing jobs due to social media posts they put up a long time ago. James Gunn lost the Guardians of the Galaxy gig. Kevin Hart lost his Oscar hosting spot.
Don’t let an old post derail your career now. Go through your previously posted content (we know, there could be a lot to go through) and delete anything questionable.
Help Instead of Hurt
It’s pretty clear that a careless approach to social media could hurt your career. But it’s also true that a properly deployed social media strategy can open up opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available.
Instead of fearing social media, and logging off entirely, turn it to your advantage. Treat it like a marketing tool rather than a way to pass time. Just like you connect with friends online, you can connect with future employers.
Crafting an appealing professional image helps drive your career forward. A strong recruiting partner, like LaborMax, can assist you in honing your approach while putting you in ideal situations to maximize your long-term potential.
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