Be Careful What You Post
Eight years ago, I wrote an article about how people need to be careful about posting on social media because it may negatively impact their career. It still amazes me that after nearly 10 years of social media, people are still willing to post ANYTHING, including but not limited to: pictures of their drunken escapades, pictures of themselves scantily clad, or opinions that may be considered incendiary. These same people wonder why they lost their job or got their pending job offer pulled off the table. It’s crazy that 8 years later, I still have to warn people on what they post on social media. So, here we go…
You have a killer resume, an award-winning portfolio, and your references will sing your praises from the mountain top. You also impressed them in the interview. Yet, you still didn’t get the job. Why? Well, your potential employers found your Instagram page and saw those images of you in your underpants chugging down shots as if they’re water. They saw your inappropriate joke posts on your Facebook page. They also saw your Twitter feed where you were bad-mouthing this potential employer while expressing your desire to work for their competitor. They also contacted a former colleague of yours (using some ” skip tracing” based on your LinkedIn network) that had a completely different opinion about you than your references.
Okay, that is an extreme example, but what I’m trying to illustrate is the employers don’t just rely on what they’ve seen in the interview or what your references say. Technology made it easier for employers and clients to figure out what you’re really like before they either hire you or choose you to perform their services. Companies will scan you to find out what social media platforms you use and view your pages and feeds.
Even if the company doesn’t spend time scanning social media sites to find out the dirt about their current and potential employees, don’t forget the power of “six degrees of separation”. Someone may stumble upon your post, and that person knows someone who knows someone associated with the employer, and they end up showing the employer your post. A recent story about a woman who received a job offer at a daycare only to get the offer pulled back because of something she posted on her Facebook page about how she hates being around kids came from a “six degrees of separation” situation. She was a member of a Facebook group, and another member of the Facebook group saw her post. That member knew some people who knew the potential employer, and they showed the post to the potential employer.
So what if you don’t participate in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or the social media du jour? Well, do you post reviews on sites? Do you post on message boards? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then they’ll still be able to find out what you do. I always use the example of when I was in a job interview, and the interviewer started talking about “Doctor Who” with me. I didn’t understand how he knew I was a fan, until he mentioned that he read reviews that I did for “Doctor Who” DVDs. The moral of the story is even though you may be posting on something that you think is obscure, like a message board on quantum physics or a blog on the architectural techniques in medieval Europe, you still have to be on guard with what you say and how you say it because you don’t know whether someone will find it.
I mentioned LinkedIn in the extreme example. I know what you’re about the say. “That’s a professional network! I can’t imagine someone posting a picture of them in their underwear or posting a dirty joke on that site!”. That’s true – 99% of the people on LinkedIn keep it professional. Here’s how they use LinkedIn to get information about you:
If you are a premium member, LinkedIn has features where they can look up your connections as well as your connections’ connections. The employer isn’t going to contact your direct connection. Rather, the employer is going to contact a connection of your connection that could possibly know you. Granted, if 98% of the people will sing your praises, you won’t have much to worry about. However, if you are the type of person who people either love or hate, you have more to worry about. You may be the best technician this side of the Mississippi, but if a person doesn’t personally like you, that person is more than happy to bash you when asked, and they’re more than happy to minimalize your skills. To help solidify your position, take advantage of some of the LinkedIn features such as getting others to write you endorsements. If you can get your manager or executives to give you endorsements, that will help you as well. Also, work on your personality a little bit so you’re not offending so many people. 😉
I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions and experiences. Please post a constructive comment.
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