Catherine's Career Corner
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November 13th, 2010
One Wrong Move, Your Facebook or Twitter Could Cost You Your Job.

Everything you post, your comments, tweets and likes on the internet are 100% public and searchable even when you think they are hidden from people that are not your friends. If you don’t want to share it with the public, then don’t share it at all. As a professional, one wrong move, your Facebook or Twitter could cost you your job.

social media mistakeWritten by Catherine Adenle

I just read Jeff Bullas’s interesting and apt post on the 30 Things You Should Not Share On Social Media. So, I thought I should write an article around the subject and aim it at the gainfully employed and job seekers that gets easily carried away and carelessly use Social Media without exercising any caution.

Agreed, the Internet is filled with numerous Social Networking Sites for our convenience. There are also numerous apps for mobile phones to ensure that we always stay connected to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the other Social Networking Sites 24/7 while we are on the move. Consequently, we are readily able to converse, update our profiles, voice our opinions, or make a quick comment via our mobile phones anywhere, anytime and any day.

Most professionals with little or no time to do F2F (Face-to-Face) networking are increasingly relying on Social Networking Sites to fill the need for that much needed social interaction. In this economically challenged climate, Job seekers are also utilizing Social Networking Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn to connect, network, search for jobs and sometimes use it unwisely to vent their frustrations.

Frankly, nowadays, if you aren’t on the web, it’s almost near impossible to secure a job. However, do you know that everything you post, your comments, tweets, likes etc., on the internet are 100% public and searchable even when you think they are hidden from people that are not your friends? If you don’t know, now you know. Ok, what does that mean for you?

Well, what that means is that you have to think twice before posting anything onto the Internet. If you are not careful, your Facebook or Twitter could cost you your job. It is imperative that you always carefully consider just what you are sharing with the world, and what you should keep to yourself. What you post on the Internet today may not come back to haunt you today or tomorrow, but it definitely will surely do someday because everything on the web is archive-able, which also means it is going to be searchable. The comments you make today will pop up in searches years from now.

If you think about it, nothing in the last decade has revolutionized how people interact or search for information than the advent of social networking media and the powerful search engine, Google. Search engines are going to become even more powerful in the near future.

Be it through Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or LinkedIn, these days more people than ever before, including companies are using the Internet to search for people information, get alerts, follow people, interact with friends, family and strangers. As convenient and valuable as the internet may be, it can also be perilous, particularly for the employed and those that are job seeking.

In 2009, CareerBuilder, the online employment resource conducted a survey and found out that 45 percent of employers use social media for screening job applicants. The result of the survey came a year after a similar CareerBuilder survey of 31,000 employers found that one-third of applicants considered for jobs were rejected because of information discovered of them via social media. According to Careerbuilder, of the managers surveyed, “29 percent use Facebook, 26 percent use LinkedIn and 21 percent use MySpace. One-in-ten (11 percent) search blogs while 7 percent follow candidates on Twitter.” Remember that you can choose to follow anyone on Twitter, they don’t have to agree to you following them.

In the same survey 35% of managers said that information found on Social Networking Sites eliminated a candidate from contention. Key reasons included inappropriate photographs (53%), drinking or drug use (44%), bad mouthing former employers, co-workers, and customers (35%), exhibiting poor communication skills (29%), discriminatory remarks (26%), lied about their qualifications for the position (24%), and discussed confidential employer information (20%). On the other hand, employers also found evidence that some candidates would be good hires: candidate demonstrated a personality that would be a good company fit (50%), consistent professional qualifications (39%), candidate showed creativity (38%) and good communication skills (35%), prospective employee was well-rounded (33%), good references were posted about the candidate (19%) and the candidate received awards and recognition (15%).

My advice is, if you don’t have anything good to say on the Internet about anyone, any company, any sensitive subject, perhaps consider not saying anything at all. Before you go ahead and utilize your “all important power of free speech” on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platforms, make sure you think first and watch what you say or broadcast to the world. Either you like it or not, people will snoop on your activities on the Internet.

Big and small companies monitor their reputations on the Internet. Anytime there is a mention of their names, they get an alert. So, if you are online and you mention any company’s name, you will not get away with it. Agreed, some people’s common sense genes are removed from their DNA when they are on a computer in the quiet surroundings of their room or home. So, they think that no one else can see what they put out. Don’t be a fool or be fooled, use your judgement and brains.

The internet is a very public place so it is highly important that you exercise the same caution, common sense and decorum you would in real life social situations.

Are you familiar with these stories?

The Job Haters Story

The images and the incident discussed in the YouTube video below clearly show lack of judgement or common sense displayed by the employees affected and the implications of using Social Media Networking platforms wrongly.

Waitress Fired For Facebook Comment



Although your Facebook and Twitter accounts are your personal accounts, you still have to watch how you use them and what you use them for. If you use them to connect with your friends, family and work colleagues, it makes everything you place there much more accessible to a wider audience and it makes you professionally vulnerable if you are not careful. My advice to you is that you should choose your words very carefully.

Be sure not to publish anything derogatory especially about you, your job, your colleagues, your company, friends and your boss especially if you have friended your boss who is not an active contributor on either of the Social Networking Sites but a lurker that reads everything on Facebook or Twitter. Even if your boss is not your friend, your other friends and colleagues might have him or her as a friend and if your privacy setting is not tight, then, they can still see your comments and in any case, there are still other ways things can get out, so at times it’s best to keep things to yourself and not display them on any Social Networking Sites. Whinging on Facebook or Twitter comes with a cost, in some cases it will cost you to lose a good job, just like the circumstances shown above.

Cisco and the Job Seeker they offered a job to…

The jobseeker was lucky because he got hired by Cisco then naively or stupidly the job seeker posted less than an enthused opinion about the Cisco job on Twitter and actually named Cisco as the new employer. Unsurprisingly, Cisco’s highly tech savvy employee on Twitter spots the post and promptly responds. Then, the jobseeker quickly blocked the Twitter updates by hiding them from public view. Well, it was too late. The damage was already done, and the jobseeker must have probably spent most of the day wondering if Cisco will rethink its job offer. Needless to say that the offer was consequently retracted and the job seeker lost out in a big way!

Remember, everything you write on the Internet can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion someday, somehow, somewhere. Your behaviour on the web will cost you a good job, new job, promotion, your career, your relationship and your friendships. A comment posted on a public stream used by nearly everyone and feeding into Facebook, Twitter and MySpace will not go unnoticed. Just because someone is not on Twitter, Facebook or MySpace doesn’t mean your comments on the web won’t get back to them.

For other stories like the ones above, see Forbes for 11 real examples of how people lost their jobs and careers due to Facebook Faux Pas.

So, what does this mean for you as a Job seeker or an employee? It simply means that you should take these ex-employees as examples of what not to do on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube as it can bring you down. So, for your own sake if you are a professional or you are looking for work, no one should see your Las Vegas holiday photos of you shoving dollar bills down a stripper’s G-string which you may think it’s cool and will earn you the thumbs up from your friends without thinking about your potential employer checking your credentials for that job you are trying to get.

Recent privacy breaches of sites such as Facebook show that once information is divulged, it may be impossible to claw them back or control how they are used. In America, most states are fire at-will employment states, which mean employers can terminate a worker for any palpable reason except for protected reasons such as gender, race, and religion.

Doing dodgy things is not cool and posting them onto the web isn’t the smartest thing, in fact, it is stupid. Before you click submit, send, publish or update, imagine that everyone you know, your boss, mentors, parents, lecturers, priest, co-workers, grandparents, exes, all recruiters, your children and future employers will read your comments. So, invest your free time on using Facebook or Twitter to harvest pertinent professional information, brand yourself, network, and connect with the companies you like to work for. Like them, comment on their products and follow their news. Spend your spare time to become a SME in your field, demonstrate your skills by showcasing your professional handiwork or by contributing sensible comments to pertinent discussions.

For further information, see the Do’s and Don’ts of Social Networking When Looking for Work

Have you heard of anyone losing their job from what they shared on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook?

Let’s hear from you.

Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.

6 thoughts on “One Wrong Move, Your Facebook or Twitter Could Cost You Your Job.

  1. OMG, thanks for this. Do you know how sometimes, foolishly my friends and I place jokey comments on FB and Twitter? Well, that will stop as from now on. Thank you for an enlightening post.

  2. You could definitely see your skills within the work you write.
    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers
    like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  3. magnificent publish, very informative. I ponder why the opposite specialists of this sector don’t notice this.
    You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

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