These days it seems like you can find everything you need to know about someone with a simple Google search (scary, but true). Because of this, your social media accounts essentially act as a digital resume, so it’s more important than ever to manage them carefully. A potential (or current) employer can learn a lot more about you by flipping through your facebook photos or taking a peek at your Instagram account than they can by reading your resume.
So whether you’re on the job hunt, are in the midst of the interview process, or are currently employed, there are some rules that you’ll want to follow to make sure that your latest posts and pictures don’t get you into trouble at the office (or ruin your chances of landing your dream job).
The Golden Rule. I heard somewhere that you should never post anything on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. that you wouldn’t want to be on the cover of the New York Times, so this is what I personally follow as the golden rule of social media. Whether it’s something private or work-related, think about the impact of having your latest post broadcast to the entire country. If you’d be absolutely mortified, then you probably shouldn’t post it. Now I’m not saying that everything you or I tweet will make it to the NYT. But it’s a good barometer to decide what to (and what not) to post.
Represent Well. Once you’re employed by a company, you become a brand representative. You’ll want to start thinking twice about posting anything that could be misconstrued or received in a negative way, because not only could it land you in hot water, but it could also reflect negatively on the company or brand who pays your salary. Especially if you’re interviewing, you’ll want to make sure that your social media accounts accurately reflect the mature, driven, and tasteful person that you are in real life.
No Negativity. If you’re frustrated with a coworker or a client is driving you crazy, I suggest venting to a friend—and not to your Twitter followers. I’ve heard too many stories of smart, talented people getting into big trouble when they’re found speaking not-so-nicely about someone they work with via their social accounts. So before you post something negative about a fellow colleague (or even worse, a client), ask yourself, “Would I be comfortable saying this in a team meeting? Or directly to the person who I’m talking about?” If the answer is no, then back away from the computer…
After-Hours. It’s one thing to snap a gorgeous ‘gram of the pretty peonies you saw on your lunch break… but it’s a completely different thing to be tweeting/facebooking/instagramming constantly throughout the workday. You don’t want to give off the impression that you’re slacking on your assignments. If you’re updating your Facebook status every 20 minutes, it could get back to your boss that you’d rather give the world live updates on your workday than complete the items on your to-do list.
Confidentiality Matters. What happens at the office should stay at the office. Companies value their employees’ ability to keep confidential information just that—confidential. If your employer is pursuing a new partnership or has exciting news that you’ve been sworn NOT to repeat until it’s made public, do not release spoilers on your social media accounts. I know a ton of companies that require their employees to sign a confidentiality agreement, simply because the very nature of business can be extremely sensitive. So if you forget that you’re supposed to stay hush-hush about a certain company secret, you could end up in big trouble.
Make it Private. If you decide that you want to keep your personal life private from co-workers—or you just don’t want to censor your selfies—then I suggest keeping your social media accounts private. That way, if someone wants to do a little recon on your social activity, they have to ask permission. For Facebook, I would also recommend adjusting your privacy settings, because sometimes you don’t have control of what photos your friends post of you. You’ll want to make sure that your boss can’t see the photo album of your bestie’s Vegas bachelorette party without requesting to be your friend first.
Do you have any tips to add to my list of social media do’s and don’ts? Leave them in the comments.