Social media may be the most powerful employment tool in history. It enables students to engage employers and establish a unique brand and professional persona in a manner that is truly unprecedented. However, that power can be a blessing or a curse. Negative, potentially career-damaging content can be spread to thousands with the simple click of a button. Caution is the order of the day.
Here are the top 5 career-damaging social media mistakes you MUST avoid.
1) Posting inappropriate content or pictures: A party picture among friends or an inside joke may seem innocent, but you never know what may go viral. There is no real context to social media posts, so you must always consider how a picture or a comment would be received by an employer if seen absent of any context. Do NOT post anything that does not make you look professional. It may be the ONLY thing your potential employer sees about you!
2) Speaking negatively about your school or employer: You may be very upset by a grade you received, or believe that you were treated unfairly in an internship, but do NOT post that information on social media. Once again, there is no context here, and a potential employer will not take kindly to these kinds of posts. Every company worries about its online brand, so your willingness to post negative comments will be seen by an employer as an indication that you would do the same if you worked for them. That is a risk they do not want to take.
3) Getting involved in political discussions: People can be so passionate about their politics. It seems so natural to engage in political debate online, especially when someone posts something that you find extremely infuriating. The problem is that you can be sure that someone else will find your political opinions equally infuriating. Politics triggers a lot of emotion and an employer or hiring manager may turn you down simply based on a political disagreement. Unless you work in politics, steer clear of this topic on social media!
4) Being too pushy: Social media is a great way to engage people in real time. Sometimes, however, because we are not calling or emailing someone directly, we don’t realize how aggressive constant social media engagement can be. People don’t like pushy salesman, be it in-person or online. Don’t keep badgering that hiring manager across social media channels. Remember that you are asking for something from them. Give them time to respond. Texting or direct messaging people you do not know well will be seen as overly aggressive. My rule of thumb; if the recipient of text would ask “who is this?” then that is NOT a person you should be texting.
5) Being passive: Will Rogers once said “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Social media is an investment of time and effort. Respond when people reach out to you, even if you don’t see immediate employment value in that relationship. In addition, don’t let your social media accounts sit stagnant for long periods of time. Make sure to update your LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook accounts so that people see that you are active. That makes them much more likely to engage and interact with you!