Every time I read an article like the recent “How social media can hurt your career” on Careerbuilder, I am grateful that we didn’t have social media back when I was in college. Young, testing the waters, and with a lot of opinions to share, I wonder if I would have unknowingly committed a faux pas in the weakness of a heated moment that would have hurt me professionally? Of course, stupid choices are not reserved for the young. Grown and experienced adults make them every day. The differences are some are more public than others and now social media is being used by employers as a microscopic tool inspecting your every utterance.
As social media becomes the latest branding strategy, networking technique, job seeking tool and recruitment vehicle, it’s also becoming the latest way for people to get job offers rescinded, reprimanded at work and even fired.
While I am all for expressing oneself and acknowledge that for many of us our online friends are as valuable as any person we know IRL (“in real life”), some of the examples I read about are really eligible for the Darwin Awards. Like the offhanded “my boss is an idiot” type remarks on Twitter and Facebook or the “I’m doing something illegal, immoral or against company policy right now at my desk” sort of fare that really makes you wonder whether the author thinks that no one is really going to read it? Unless you are working in a cave, chances are your boss, co-workers, employer, or someone is going to have something to say about your comments. Remember the 6 degrees of separation that makes social networking such a powerful tool? Well the power saw cuts both ways.
Of course what is and is not appropriate is in the eye of each individual. Yet when it comes to professional life you really do have to get that you should never put anything in print (and these days that includes tweets, status updates, etc.) that you (or your mother) would be embarrassed seeing on the front page of the newspaper (or say the front page of CNN.com). Read the rest of this entry »