We are living in the age of socialized everything. From marriages to meals, no event is too big, too small, or too personal to be documented, overshared, and liked across all social channels.
We connect to friends, family members, high school acquaintances, and even our co-workers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Social media can improve communication, boost team morale, promote a company brand, and more if used effectively.
Smart employers today will want you to be using social. The key is doing so thoughtfully and responsibly. In this age of constant connection and blurred work-life boundaries, navigating social media is no easy feat. In fact, it’s an increasingly necessary skill.
Here are some tips for job seekers and employees looking to keep the boss happy and even add value using social media:
Make it past the interview
Remember the days when you made your first impression in person? Those days, like the Walkman and payphones, are long gone. Recruiters and employers don't have to rely on your résumé and a letter of recommendation to decide how they feel about you as a potential employee - they can find out the real story through Google (as many as 93 percent do).
Candidates might include a link to a professional website, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile directly on their résumé to steer these searches in the right direction. Getting ahead of the game in this way can only help: According to the BBC, one in 10 seekers between the ages of 16 and 34 have been rejected for a job because of something posted on their profiles.
The same poll found that two-thirds of job seekers were not concerned that their social media use could hamper their job search. Maybe they should be: One college student lost her new job the day after she accepted it by tweeting a less than flattering statement about her [now] former employer Cisco.
Know who you’re connected with
Many great friendships begin at work and often continue over social media. Those same connections can end careers, though, if employers notice unprofessional behavior.
You may not be connected to your boss directly, but if a friend of yours is, and likes your less-than-professional post, employers might discover it anyway. Waitresses, state officials, even a guard at Buckingham Palace have found themselves looking for a new line of work when supervisors discovered their unprofessional posts.
If you do share something stupid, damning, or offensive on social media, don’t tag your boss in the post.
It’s called “social media” for a reason
We like to think that our social media pages are private, but this notion ignores both the “social” and the “media” aspects of the phrase. You are creating media that is meant to be socialized, like it or not.
A PR director for InterActiveCorp learned this the hard way after sending an insensitive tweet before her flight to Africa. The woman had about 200 followers at the time and likely didn’t give the tweet much thought. She also had a public Twitter account and a prominent employer. By the time she landed and regained cell phone service, the PR director found herself the subject of an internationally trending hashtag, the subject of universal ire, and unemployed.
The bottom line
Sharing on social media can be a lot of fun, but don’t forget that your posts aren't private. Athletes and celebrities give us our most public examples of social media fails, but private citizens are not immune to similar disasters. Some people set themselves up for failure before the job interview by leaving a breadcrumb trail of unsavory online behavior. Others overshare the wrong message online and suddenly find themselves unemployed when a connected supervisor notices.
No matter the reason, medium, or message, every person fired for a social media post can agree on one thing: they’d be much happier today if they had never posted at all, or hit delete instead.
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