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7 tips for making sure social media doesn’t kill your career

(Social Media) Most careers now depend on our digital footprints, so without being disingenuous, how can we make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot online?

social media

social media

Social media can definitely hurt your career

If you’re job hunting and have half of a brain, you probably already know that you shouldn’t tweet pictures of yourself taking hits from a five foot bong, and you shouldn’t tag yourself in photos on Facebook laying out topless on the beach, but there are some less obvious ways you may be sabotaging yourself.

Have you considered the frequency and timing of your social media use, or who you’re friends with online as part of what an employer sees? In many cases, that’s their first impression of you, before you ever even land that interview, so make sure you are polished in a meaningful way.

To unveil these less obvious tips for making sure social media doesn’t kill your career, we tapped Eamon Collins, Marketing Director at PageGroup, which he offers in his own words below:

1. Don’t be too active on social media at the wrong times

If you’re constantly tweeting, sharing and liking content during the day when you’re supposed to be working, then at some stage your boss is going to wonder if you’re really committed to your job.

Try out the Stay Focused chrome app that blocks you from accessing certain sites e.g. Twitter and Facebook when you’re working.

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2. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that what you share is private

Because you’re not friends with your work colleagues, you think what you talk about can’t be found? Wrong!
Default settings for most social networks are set to open, so unless you’ve changed your privacy settings, it’s likely an employer or recruiter can see everything about you.

Learn how to update your privacy settings on the main social networks with our social media guide.

3. Think about the repercussions of what you post on social media

There are many examples of people who’ve lost their jobs due to social media mess ups. A high flying PR director (who should have known a lot better) tweeted this just before getting on a plane to South Africa:

justine sacco

She’d lost her job by the time she’d landed…

If you’d think twice about saying something in a work context, it’s probably not a good idea not to post it.

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4. Don’t treat all social networking sites the same

Although the line between personal and private social networks is becoming blurred, when it comes to your career there are definitely some networks that you should be more concerned with than others.
In a recent study, 94% of recruiters who use social media to find candidates said they used LinkedIn, but only 34% say they use Twitter.

Focus on keeping the most corporate social networks, e.g. LinkedIn, as professional as possible. See tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile.

5. Don’t let your past catch up with you

It’s important to remember with the internet that once content goes live online, it tends to stay around.
To make sure there’s nothing from your past on the internet that you’d rather forget, Google yourself. And if there are things showing up there that you don’t want to show up, you need to do some reputation management work.

6. Don’t forget who you’re friends with

A friend request from your boss can be a big deal on social media. Whatever you do, you shouldn’t leave your boss’s friend request hanging.

You’ve got two options. You can set yourself up on Facebook and Twitter so you’re unsearchable or unfollowable (find out how in our social media guide). If you don’t want to do that, then it’s time to clear up your profile, accept their request and be much more careful about what you post in future.

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7. Don’t fail to keep secrets

Tweeting about things that you shouldn’t is social media 101. But when things are supposed to be secret, like pay negotiations, a new job offer, or confidential discussions about mergers and acquisitions, your indiscretions can be a big deal.

In one of the most famous incidents, infamously nicknamed “Cisco Fatty,” a graduate student landed an internship at Cisco, and then tweeted;

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

Needless to say, the tweet went viral, and his offer was withdrawn.

The takeaway

As Collins said, some of this is social media 101, but you’d be surprised the caliber of people that violate these basics, so keep them in mind as you travel along the path to success, and don’t tweet so blindly.

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Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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