Is Social Media hurting your career?

We live in a time where it seems normal to share everything about our daily lives with the world. So many do it without thinking twice. They post where they are going and who they are with on Facebook. They post updates about their night out on Twitter. They take pictures at the restaurant and post them to Instagram. If something interesting happens, they take a video, post it to YouTube, and hope it goes virile. Without thought, people share their lives not just with friends and family but with perfect strangers; thank you social media.

Without thought of consequences, people post. The next morning your average 20-something will get up and get ready for work. When she arrives, she will have an invite from her boss asking her to come in to her office as soon as she arrives. HR will informed her boss that there were some very unprofessional photos featuring none other than her from Saturday night on Instagram and a video on YouTube that should have never been posted. HR would like to speak with both of them as soon as possible.

Now I know what you are thinking, what happens on my own time should not concern my employer. This however is not true. You are an extension of your employer; in many cases, you represent your company. By having unprofessional photos and videos of employees circulating online, could cost companies future business. Perceptions is everything. You or someone you may know might have left a company because their personal values did not match the company’s values. This sentiment is no different for owners or shareholders of a company.

It is important to know your company social media policy (internal and personal external use). Employees can check to see if their company has the ability to terminate employment based on external personal online activity by checking their states Off-duty Conduct Laws. All employees should be familiar with their states off-duty conduct laws along with their company’s on and off-duty conduct policy. Some states prohibit employers from disciplining or terminating employment based on what an employee does on their own time as long as the activities are legal.

In our example above, our 20-something did not read her company’s social media policy and ended up getting fired for misconduct. It is important for people to understand, when you are posting to the world, anyone including your boss will have access to your post. A post that takes less then 5 minutes to share could affect your job, career and future.

Social media conduct does not only apply to those who are employed. If you currently job hunting you should be concerned with your social media activity, present and past. Recruiters and employers review social media profiles to see if the candidate has a social media presence and what that presences is.

Employers are looking for individuals to represent their companies and grow with the company. Social media has many great purposes; however, when it comes to personal use, keep in mind the word Personal before posting. If you would like to share with friends and family, lock your social media profiles. Do not provide access to anyone who would share any photos or postings to anyone outside your circle. Keep in mind, if you do not want something shared with the world, including your mother or grandmother, it is best not to post it. You would not want to go through all the trouble of protecting your reputation just to let someone else destroy it with one Saturday night photo.

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