Social Media Mistakes to Avoid in 2017 to Save Your Career and Job Search

Nearly everyone is on social media, enjoying the connections it offers to friends and family. With that said, it can also wreak havoc on careers and job searches for those who aren’t careful about what they post. What may seem harmless to you may be offensive enough to others that it could prevent you from getting the new job you really wanted—or even losing the great position you already have. Below are some tips on how to avoid the biggest mistakes on social media this year that could cost you big time.


If You Can’t Say Something Nice …

If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all. This is a good rule of thumb for using social media. You look bad if you speak negatively about your boss, your employer, or your colleagues. This is a huge slip up because even if you aren’t direct friends with your coworkers or supervisors, you could share friends—so they could still see your posts, even if you have your privacy settings properly set. In addition, negative comments about your company, customers, or colleagues are viewed poorly by recruiters and could even cause you to be terminated from your current position.

“Bad-mouthing previous employers and bad-mouthing customers is never acceptable,” said Tamica Sears, an executive coach at Sears Coaching and a human resources manager with more than 15 years of experience. Sears, an HR manager for a major publishing company, said she has seen such posts lead to employees being fired. She said to remember that you are always representing your employer whether you are on the clock or not—and that what you post is a reflection on them, particularly when you have posted on your social media where you are employed.

Private Politics

Another social media error is to post your personal political views online. This can be especially difficult during a contentious election such as the US Presidential Election of 2016, but posting your political opinions has the potential to negatively impact you professionally. Whether you or I agree with this or not in recent polls, recruiters revealed they would view a job candidate poorly who supported a particular candidate they didn’t agree with. Know that sharing your political opinions could negatively affect your job search.
“What people don’t realize is that when they are posting things that are of a highly political nature or things that may be deemed racist or derogatory, they are really shooting themselves in the foot,” Sears warns. “It’s a digital record that will follow them. Even when people delete those posts, other people will have taken screen shots and reach out to their employer to let them know what they have done.”

Thank Your English Teacher

For those of you who learned proper grammar and spelling, thank your English teacher—because these skills count in the job market. Recruiters reported in a recent study by JobVite that they frowned upon spelling and grammatical mistakes, and 76 percent of them said it would affect their hiring decision. While this probably won’t hurt your current position, it could keep you from being considered for that promotion or new job.

No Drinks, No Drugs

While some drugs such as marijuana and alcohol may be considered more socially acceptable than in the past, keep them off your social media. Recruiters view these in a negative light according to the aforementioned JobVite survey, which reported that drinking or drug use on a candidate’s social media is likely to impact their hiring decision. This could also lead to serious problems with your current employer who could terminate you based on such behavior.

Let It Go

Social media is not the proper venue for a conflict with your sister-in-law or an old flame. While some people love to watch a good fight unfold on social media, it’s terrible for your personal brand. You are in control of putting your best foot forward, whether for your current employer or for potential employers to see. Just as companies have to market themselves, you are doing the same with social media—and no argument is worth sullying your personal brand and damaging your career potential. With the introduction of Facebook Jobs even the once thought more personally-geared network has now become a professional network.

Which Media to Use?

There is a multitude of social media platforms you can utilise to promote your personal brand online. I tell my clients that it is not necessary to be on every one. Do a little homework and pick the two or three that best fit your needs. When it comes to job searching and career networking, LinkedIn is a must. Other than that, keep it simple and choose platforms that you find easy to use, and don’t bite off more than you can chew in 30 minutes or less each day. Also, be aware that each type of social media appeals to a different audience. When considering which social media to utilise, think about who you wish to reach.

Know Your Reach

Keep your posts and photos professional regardless of which platform you choose to use. Your current employer as well as potential employers often check social media to determine your work experience and attributes. While some social media is more personal such as Facebook, you still want to keep it clean. If you wouldn’t share it with your grandmother, don’t post it. You want to present a personal brand that represents your stable and balanced lifestyle.
Social media wields great power in our society and the job market. By knowing what is acceptable online, you can stop potential mistakes in their tracks and build a personal brand that makes you shine. Recruiters want to see your best attributes and hire employees that will make them look great too. Employing common sense and expanding your professional network on social media will help you turn today’s career goals into tomorrow’s accomplishments.

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