In today’s world, social networking sites have taken the internet by storm and there are many of them including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter SnapChat and so the list goes on. Social media has become such an integral part of our lives that it’s easy to become careless with it, and when this happens it can have far reaching consequences and has at times even cost people their jobs. Twitter, Facebook and various other social platforms can be very intriguing and a great distraction for people, and they are a great way to be able to connect with family, friends and colleagues, but they can also be dangerous and get you into hot water at work, if not used properly.
Many of us will have heard a story about somebody being fired for something they have done on social media such as calling into their workplace sick and then posting drunken photos of themselves onto the likes of Facebook for all and sundry to see, and the pictures finding their way back to their boss. Reports indicate that as many as 1 in 10 job seekers between the ages of 16 and 34 have lost out on a job opportunity based entirely on something that has been posted on their social media profiles. There are different rules and regulations with regards to what employees can and cannot do with what they find on social media sites, but regardless whether or not your employer sees something on your social media intentionally or not, it can be career limiting.
There are a couple of things one needs to keep in mind when it comes to social media and how it may or may not be affecting your career, mainly:
Is it cutting into time that should be dedicated to work?
It is important to remember that as temping as it is to be socializing with ones friends on Facebook or keeping an eye on what your ex is up to, that if this is all happening at work, it could become a problem. Many companies are now regulating the history of visited sites on office computers, as they are becoming aware as to just how much time employees can waste on these sites, when they are being paid to work.
Are you posting inappropriate information?
People at times do not seem to know when they are putting up information, photographs or messages that are not suitable for all and sundry to see. Whilst often this information is of a personal nature, one must remember that you also represent the company you work for, and your behaviour can have an impact on the company as well. Whilst it is fine to share some information on social media, one needs to know the limit as to what is acceptable and what is not. Whilst most people are aware that posting information about a wild party they have been to is not really appropriate for places like LinkedIn, they often forget the dangers of putting this information on the likes of Facebook. Also regardless as to whether you are expressing your views on social, religion or political issues, one need to always tread carefully as people can take offense to these things.
Are you guilty of discussing work related issues?
Many people have made the mistake of offloading their irritation and problems at work on social media. This can have disastrous consequences, and could even result in your losing your job. Speaking negatively about your boss or the company you work for on social media in all likelihood is not going to end well, so if you have had a bad day thinks very carefully before going on a rant online. Complaining about your boss or the company you work for on social media for all and sundry to see, is never going to go down well if this information somehow makes its way back to your company. You need to also remember that depending on how long your friends list is, and how many followers you have, you can be speaking to a very large audience.
Are you sharing too much personal Information?
Not only can social media used incorrectly be career limiting it is also dangerous. Do not share personal information with just anybody, and always ensure you verify the profiles of the people who you are communicating with on social media. Some people have been victims of hacking and other bad activities, and the information that is accessed could cost you your career.
It is very important to remember that knowing the right way to present yourself in a professional way is really important not only for your career but also your reputation, so always think twice before putting too much information out there for everybody to see. One needs to remember that even if you have separate profiles for your friends and family to your professional profile, that there are no guarantees that inappropriate photos or posts from your personal page will not be shared by somebody whose privacy settings are less secure than yours.
Firings due to misuse of social media are on the rise, and as we become more and more comfortable using social media as a voice, so does one tend to become more and more comfortable telling more and more people about everything we are doing. Not only are people losing their jobs because of social media, but it’s affecting people’s chances of getting hired, so always think twice about what you want to say and to what audience on social media.