About once a week, I read an article about someone or other who just got fired – or did not get hired – not because they weren’t doing their job well, but because of what they chose to put up on Facebook.
We are so used to thinking of our social media profiles as our own private bastion – “You can check out my LinkedIn, Ms. Manager, but other than that keep your hands off!” – is the usual mental response to the idea of our co-workers or potential employers going through our social media accounts. And then there are people on the other side of the spectrum, the ones whose first action upon joining any new organization, or meeting someone new in their current organization, is to immediately add them on Facebook.
You should not be obliged to accept your boss’s friend request on Facebook, or give out your Twitter handle. Of course, if you tweet under your own name, you can except that the account will be found at some point, and what you say on it may go a great way towards the impression you leave in the workplace.
At any event, if you have a profile that can be accessed publicly, it’s a good idea to avoid being very controversial or explosive on it and to watch your language as far as you can. No company would be willing to hire someone who has a habit of exposing far too much of their life online and it shows that you lack discretion which is a highly valued quality by most employers.
Many employers have started instituting social media checks as a way of getting to know you before they hire you. This also holds true for people within your current organization who may be looking to promote or transfer you. Employers are aware that we only present a certain side of ourselves in the office – and they want to know who you are outside of those confines.
But it is true that your actions in your private life can have an impact on the image of the company you work for. Imagine if a Nike employee went into a shoe store and started throwing a fit at the cashier there about a minor matter! Your bill would carry your name, and the cashier knows your face. Unless you have a privacy-locked social media account, how hard would it be for them to look you up on LinkedIn or Facebook and know where you work? And then imagine the repercussions that would ensue, for yourself and your company. If they decided to post about their grievance publicly.
The what ifs ensuing from a potential or current employer checking out your social media accounts are far-reaching – and very few of such scenarios could end well for you.
What if a potential employer checked out your Twitter account and saw you bashing your previous employers?
What if your boss saw that you put up a post about what a great time you’re having chilling at home, when you said you were actually home sick?
Such things have happened often enough in the recent past that it’s best to be very careful with how you act online, what you choose to show, and whom you show it to.I have often faced social disapproval and teasing for refusing to add co-workers and potential employers on Facebook and refuse to give them my Instagram account address. I do believe that in the long run, it has been well worth it. I feel safer, saner, and do not have to worry about watching every word I say online.