Sneaky ways social media could hurt your careerNot all mistakes are as blatant as posting party pics when you're 'sick' at home.
You've heard it all before: Don't friend your boss on Facebook. Don't trash clients on Twitter. Don't post photos of yourself partying when you're allegedly home with the flu.
Social networks are so prevalent today--Facebook just celebrated its 10th anniversary, after all--that dodging social media work snafus is practically second-nature. But not all social media mistakes are as obvious as Anthony Weiner's famous gaffe. You may not be a shirtless congressman or a drunk, cursing, hooky-playing partier, but you could still be sabotaging your career with seemingly innocent Facebook posts. (So how can you tell when the writing is on the wall? Spot these seven subtle signs that you're about to be fired.)
Here are six sneaky ways your use (or lack thereof) of social media could be hurting you professionally.
You're hitting "like" too often
If your job title doesn't include the words "social media," constantly updating Facebook and Twitter is probably a bad idea. The obvious reason for this: If you're always on social networks, especially during the work day, your colleagues will eventually start wondering how much time you're actually working. But obsessive social networking isn't only a habit to curb while you're on the clock, says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide--it can hurt your professional reputation even if you're not at the office. "When you're the person who 'likes' everyone's updates and photos, you look like you have far too much free time," Cohen says. "You become the joke." While being a loser won't get you fired, Cohen warns that a less-than-desirable impression can keep you from moving up in your company. (Conversely, click here for the 10 ways to use Facebook to your advantage.)
You have a crappy profile pic
Your profile picture is probably work-appropriate--no shirtless keg stands here. But that G-rated, cropped photo from your brother's wedding may not be doing your career any favors, according to Chelsea Lockwood, a social media analyst at Aeterno Media. Lockwood, who monitors social media trends and researches qualities that appear in hiring managers' preferred job candidates, says your profile picture conveys more important than you think. "Approximately 85 percent of top candidates have high-resolution profile pictures shot from the chest up," Lockwood says. "Based on my data and my conversations with hiring managers, a clear, unobstructed view of an applicant's face makes them appear more trustworthy." (And while you're at it, learn how your selfie could sabotage your love life.
You're using the wrong email address
Think your Facebook profile is locked down so securely that hiring managers can't even find you--let alone see your private posts? If you're using your personal email address to apply for jobs, think again, says marketing consultant Mark Webster. According to Webster, many employers use an email plugin called Rapportive, which enriches email contacts by pulling associated information from the web. Although Rapportive isn't designed to thwart potential employees (by outing them on social networks), the service does automatically scan social networks for linked accounts whenever an email is loaded, so it can pull recent status updates and create an "enriched" contact profile. Even if an employer isn't using Rapportive, it's a good idea to keep work and play email addresses separate. It's simple enough to plug an email address into Facebook's search bar and come up with associated accounts.
You're not locking down your account because all of your posts are work-safe
Not everyone is an idiot when it comes to social media--some people follow all the rules and post only safe, non-partisan, G-rated content that their grandmothers would be proud of. But being a model social networker doesn't excuse you from locking down your profile and utilizing privacy controls. "Just over 70 percent of top candidates have their Facebook profiles completely locked down," Lockwood says. "It doesn't make you look like you have something to hide--it makes you look responsible." In all industries, but especially industries where privacy and discretion are important, employers are looking at how you approach social media--not what you're sharing.
You're not monitoring your friends
Employers and hiring managers don't stop at your profile--if they're really interested, they may continue on to your friends' profiles, pictures, and comments . While you can't keep tabs on every stupid thing your friends do (you should block "annoyingly frequent posts" before it's too late), you can, and should, monitor how your friends interact with your social media presence, and you with theirs. This is especially important when it comes to photos (even untagged photos are a liability) and comments (any bigoted or offensive comments on your posts will make you look bad--even if they're just jokes). According to Robert Siciliano, a security expert at McAfee, the most overlooked sneaky social media mistake is simply "liking" an inappropriate photo, video, or comment.
You're not using social media in your job search
Even innocent social media mistakes can hurt you professionally. But that doesn't mean you should shun social networks altogether, especially if you're on the market. Social media is essential for conducting a robust job search today, according to Cohen. "It's a resource for networking and for finding information on potential employers," he says. LinkedIn is aptly called the business social network, but that's not the only social network that can help you. According to a 2012 Career Builder survey, 29 percent of hiring managers claim to have found content on social media that has caused them to hire a candidate. Your Facebook and Twitter profiles can help you by displaying positive traits, such personality, creativity, and good communication skills.
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