Raise your hand if you have Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Raise your hand if you’ve ever posted something you regretted. Now, I can’t see you reading this, but I can imagine you have posted or tweeted something you later regretted, whether it was bashing your former boss, your ex-boyfriend, your professors, your parents, or the driver who cut right in front of you during rush hour.
Bad-mouthing (or should we call it bad-tweeting?) is just one common mistake that many people make online. The thing about having social media accounts is that it lets you ‘hide.’ It provides you a sheath. This can be both good and bad, but when it comes to entering the professional world, which many upperclassmen are about to experience, you shouldn’t have to hide behind the computer.
The hard truth is this: employers WILL not only Google you, but they will search you on Facebook, Twitter, your personal blog if you have one, and of course, LinkedIn. You do not want a potential employer to see a negative tweet and exile you from the list of promising candidates. Here are five short and sweet tips for what not to do on social media:
Don’t Bash Anyone
This includes former coworkers and supervisors and current coworkers and supervisors. I know it can be tempting to post something about how the person who beat you for the big promotion sounds like a hyena when she laughs, but keep it to yourself or tell a close friend (someone who isn’t your coworker, preferably).
Why not try talking to that person directly about what made you upset? It will show maturity and professionalism, whereas bad-mouthing someone on social media will make you seem immature and ignorant. Also, what’s worse than being called into your supervisor’s office because you tweeted about how your supervisor is just terrible at running meetings? You might get fired, so there’s that.
Don’t Use Expletives
This one should be common sense, right? Wrong. So many people my age swear to their heart’s content on Twitter and Facebook. It’s tasteless, unclassy, and extremely unprofessional. Also, keep slang terms and terms you’ve found on Urban Dictionary down to a bare, BARE minimum (I’m looking at you, YOLO).
I understand that the occasional swear word can help in some extreme cases, but keep it to a minimum. Unless you plan on being a comedian. And if you are, good luck with that.
Don’t Post Inappropriate Pictures
This one should also be common sense, but I see this on Facebook way more often than I’d like to. I understand that many college students want to celebrate their 21st birthday, graduation, and St Patrick’s Day and Homecoming. I get it – I’m a college student, too! Take as many pictures as you’d like – but make sure that the worst ones don’t end up on Facebook. Employers may interpret your constant party pictures as wildly inappropriate and something that wouldn’t fit in to their office culture.
Not sure about which photos to keep and which to delete? Check out this article – 12 Facebook Photos You Should Delete Now
Don’t Pick Fights
We’ve all seen them – the infamous Facebook arguments. Someone posts about a controversial topic, someone else comments about it, more people comment, and all hell breaks loose. While these are undoubtedly hilarious, they’re also embarrassing if you’re caught in the middle of one. Facebook is not the place to have an argument, especially one about politics or religion. I know it’s hard to resist, but your professionalism depends on it!
Don’t Post Without Proofreading
While having a post with a few typos isn’t as bad as having a post filled with swear words and inappropriate pictures, it’s still a bad thing. Potential employers will see your text speak and wonder if you ever went to college. You do not want potential employers to wonder about that sort of thing! So, just like you would with any document, essay, article, or e-mail, proofread your work before you hit ‘send.’
One way to let your feelings out is to write on the computer what you’re mad about. You can even go so far as enter it into the Facebook post box or Twitter tweet box, but before you hit ‘send,’ delete it. Getting your feelings out can make you feel a hundred times better.
I’m not saying that you should not have a personality when you tweet – because by all means, tweet to your heart’s content! But be smart about what you post. Your social media presence should be squeaky clean, especially for those of you entering the workforce!
This post was very negative, but next week’s post will be all positive! It will be all about how to post things of substance, how to connect with potential employers, and how to have a positive experience on social media.
Photo by Jason Howie.