How Social Media Can Cost You a Job

People use social media as a way to express their true selves. But this exercise of free expression can cost you professionally if you’re not careful.

Staffing firm OfficeTeam recently interviewed HR professionals, asking them about the types of common social media mistakes job candidates make, and which ones can reduce their chances of being hired.

Among HR pros, the most common job-killing social media no-no involves posting negative or inappropriate comments, followed by posting or being tagged in inappropriate or risqué photos.

However, job candidates can also be hurt by not posting regularly or having incomplete, dated or no social media profiles.

As you can see, not doing enough social media posting is almost as bad as engaging in the wrong kind of social media activities.

How does one strike the right balance, and avoid the pitfalls of social sharing? To arrive at an answer, OfficeTeam identified five types of professionals who commit social media errors, then provided tips to help avoid being one of them:

  1. The Cranky Critic isn’t shy about sharing off-putting remarks with the world. No subject is off limits, including former colleagues and politics. Advice: Exercise discretion when posting on social networking sites, blogs or online communities. You never know who might see your comments.
  2. The Superfluous Selfie Poster has no shortage of social media photos, but they’re not exactly always office-appropriate, and there are enough of them to suggest an inflated ego. Advice: Remove or untag yourself from any images that may raise eyebrows. Use a polished profile photograph.
  3. The TMI Transgressor posts every detail when attending a party, playing a game or taking an online quiz, whether you care to know or not. Advice: Be aware that certain topics may make you appear unprofessional. Use your best judgment when sharing status updates and check your privacy settings to control who in your network has access to what information.
  4. The Connection Counter invites just about anyone to join his or her network. When it comes to social media contacts, this person favors quantity over quality. Advice: Be selective about who you connect with and focus on fostering meaningful professional relationships. Having the right people in your network can help advance your career, and potential employers may also reach out to these individuals to learn more about you.
  5. The Nonchalant Networker takes a lackadaisical approach to social media. This individual’s online profiles are sparse, and updates are few and far between. Advice: Highlight your work history and accomplishments on sites like LinkedIn. Consider including key terms that describe your skills and experience to help employers more easily find you. Show an interest in your industry by participating in relevant Web groups and forums.

As you can see, it’s about balance. Using social media is essential, but so is keeping your professional goals in mind lest you over-share certain aspects of yourself.

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