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Protect your Career from Social Media Missteps

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

Social media is fun, but it can hurt your career. Just take Connor Riley’s word for it. Connor received a job offer from Cisco, and tweeted about it, saying, “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

Yikes! Okay, that kind of ungrateful attitude about a job offer is disturbing, but the scariest part about all of this was the tweet she received in response from Cisco:

Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."

While Connor Riley’s experience got a lot of press, there are many, more examples of social media affecting someone’s career. In fact, 90% of employers now review a candidate’s social media history during the hiring process.

How do you Protect Yourself?

There are things that you obviously shouldn’t post for the world to see, like potentially embarrassing photos or videos. But then some posts that seem harmless at first may very well come back to bite you.

Don’t post complaints about work

Hopefully, you already know not to complain about your current job when interviewing (and if you didn’t know before, now you do). But remember, much of what you post on social media can easily be seen and traced back to you.

Bottom line – remember that you lose control over what appears on social media after you hit the “post” button, so think twice.

Don’t include information that contradicts your resume

If your resume says you’ve completed your degree, but you’re still posting on Facebook about mid-terms and finals, or worse, talk about dropping out of college on Twitter, those post will very likely surface. The same goes for other information. For instance, if your resume says that you’re a manager at ABC company and your Facebook profile says that you’re currently a customer service representative at XYZ, that’s likely to hurt your job search.

At the end of the day, lying on your resume is always a bad idea, but even if you’re not lying, having outdated background information on the web can also hurt you.

Avoid presenting yourself in a negative light

Social media is a great place to blow off steam. There are so many funny memes to show off your edgy sense of humor, and it can be very entertaining to flame other people. Potential employers, however, may not share your sense of humor, and they may see your flames and trolling comments as a sign of someone who would not be a good employee.

Social Media Hygiene

By this point, you know that you need to be careful what you post openly online. But maybe you’ve made some mistakes. So, what do you do about it?

Review and clean your digital footprint

Google yourself and remove any posts you made that are negative, harsh, or just plain embarrassing. Make sure you’re checking everywhere, including Amazon and Yelp reviews you’ve made. And be sure to delete any social media accounts you no longer use or want to be associated with.

Review your privacy settings

Most social media accounts have the option to limit who can read your comments. Privacy options will often change with site updates, so be sure to check often.

Keep your professional life and personal life separate

Establish separate accounts for both your professional and personal life. Keep your professional account positive, focusing on your career and lighter aspects of your personal life, such as vacation photos or family news. Limit trash posting and amusing memes to your personal accounts, and limit access to those accounts to people you know and trust.

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