Thursday, April 11, 2013

Social Media. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Part II

Job Seekers, Employees and Your Social Media/Internet Presence


Last time, I wrote about using social media for recruiting and background screening for applicants and new hires. But what if you’re a job seeker? What if you have a job? Are there risks contained in your social media profiles and activity?

Yep, there are. Recent legal developments in some states do offer applicants and employees some protections where their social media accounts are concerned (for instance, in California, Illinois, Michigan and Maryland, an employer cannot require an applicant or an employee to turn over his/her passwords to social media accounts), but remember, if it’s on the internet…………….it’s out there, regardless of your privacy settings, someone may (and often will) share your posts. Here are a few points to remember:

1.   If you’re looking for a job, it’s really best to keep your public profile clean. Squeaky clean. Don’t
      post the photos from your wild weekend at the beach with the beer in both hands, in your
      underwear. Seriously, it happens. While many businesses don’t search the internet for information
      about applicants, some do and you really want them to find only good, or at least neutral,
      information about you and your personal and professional activities. 
2.   Don’t make insensitive jokes, don’t use foul language. 
3.   Don’t badmouth your current, or a former, employer or company.
4.   Adjust your Facebook settings so a potential employer can’t see those party photos. Better yet,
      don’t put those potentially compromising photos up there at all! (Do you really want your mother
      to see them?)
5.   Take care in choosing your profile photo. (No more pouty face mirror shots!) You don’t have to
      wear a suit and use a professional photographer, but if you’re looking for a job, keep it as
      appropriate as possible.
6.   Check your spelling and use proper grammar. Really. Several studies have shown recruiters view
      poor spelling and grammar almost as negatively as that drunken escapade at the beach. Never use
     "textspeak" on LinkedIn.  In fact, you shouldn't use textspeak anywhere except in a text.
7.   Do use your LinkedIn or Facebook posts as a way to highlight activities, both professional and
      volunteer, that would be attractive to an employer. 
8.   Join groups related to your career interests. Pick a few and add intelligent comments or start
      conversations that might highlight your knowledge in those areas.

So, what if you already have a job? Are there precautions you should take concerning your social media activity? Yes, I believe so. Check out the news, people have been fired as a result of things they posted online. Even if it doesn’t get you fired, it’s not really going to further your career, either. This certainly isn’t a complete list, but you’ll get the idea:

1.   See #1 through #5 above! And pay some attention to #6 through #8.
2.   If your company has a policy related to social media, read it and follow it. Often, these policies
      are going to focus on prohibiting, or limiting, your access to social media during the workday.
      Don’t have your Facebook page open, or minimized, on your computer (or your cellphone!)
      during the workday. Don’t post during your workday if the policy says you can’t.
3.   Don’t post confidential information belonging to your company, or about your company’s clients
      or customers.
4.   Likewise, don’t post nasty, rude, disparaging remarks about your company’s clients or
5.   Probably not a good idea to reveal that you hate your job and wish you could get fired or quit; or
      that you’re bored and having nothing to do. You might just get your wish.
6.   Don’t call in sick and then post pictures of yourself at the baseball game.
7.   Don’t post anything that is discriminatory, harassing or threatens violence. Probably not a good
      idea to even joke about this stuff.
8.   Don’t post offensive comments meant to intentionally harm someone's reputation. And that
      includes co-workers, supervisors, or family members of co-workers or supervisors.
9.   Don’t "friend" supervisors. You’re just inviting trouble with this one.

Have your accounts set to private? Don’t think your supervisor or other management personnel can see it? Think again. Your co-workers will rat you out in a nanosecond if it suits their purpose. Trust me, I can’t tell you how many times someone has walked into my office and slapped down a screenshot of a co-worker’s Facebook page with some very inappropriate content. It never ends well. Keep it clean, keep it as socially and even professionally appropriate as possible. You can share the private stuff with your friends and family, but if there’s a chance your employer, or prospective employer can see it, you might be taking a risk. Are you prepared for that?

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