The perils of social media

According to the Guardian Jobs Recruiter Survey (2015) three quarters of recruiters have looked up potential candidates on social media. The past decade has seen a prolific increase in the popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn. What many neglect is that boisterous use of social media has repercussions that can impact on future employability, so before you type your next post, or upload that photograph of you downing two bottles of wine at once – remember this;

Your next post could cost you your career.

If you don’t believe me check out these examples;

  • In 2009 a teacher in Georgia, USA was forced to resign after the school objected to photographs on her Facebook page showing her holding beer and wine exclaiming she was "headed out to play Crazy Bitch Bingo"
  • A UK teenager was released from her job at a company in Essex for broadcasting on Facebook that she found her job “boring”, even though she did not mention the company by name. The employer said of the 16 year old “Her display of disrespect and dissatisfaction undermined the relationship and made it (the role) untenable”
  • A 22 year-old in the USA landed a job with IT giants CISCO in 2010; however the offer was soon rescinded following her decision to let the world of Twitter know that she was going to have to weigh up whether a pay check as more valuable than hating her job. Unfortunately for her somebody from CISCO saw the tweet and responded “"Who is the hiring manager. I'm sure they would love to know you will hate the work. We at Cisco are versed in the web."
  • A viral example of a social media blunder is the story of Kevin Colvin, an intern at a bank in the USA – he told his bosses that he was unable to attend work due to (what was interpreted as) a family emergency in New York. Unfortunately for Kevin a very unflattering (but hilarious) photo emerged onto Facebook for many of his colleagues to see, who then reported this back to Kevin’s manager
  • Even those in showbiz are not safe from social media mishaps – in 2011 an extra on the cast of hit TV show Glee, leaked spoilers/conspiracy theories from the show and was ultimately fired, as well as receiving a tirade of abuse from disgruntled fans and the show’s creator.
  • I was taken to a Fitness to Practise tribunal following an ill-judged comment on somebody else’s photograph - at the time I was embarking on a career with the NHS – an individual from my university cohort took umbrage and complained to the tutors, resulting in my withdrawal from the course and a move away from the career I enjoyed and was enthusiastic about.

These are examples of how it goes wrong – try not tolet these put you off social media completely because when used appropriately it is an excellent tool for staying in touch with frends and family, as well as a great source of information.

Instead use the following as guidelines;

  • Check your privacy settings to make sure that only people you have approved can see what you post – although keep in mind that this is only goes so far in stopping people snooping. Remember that any “likes” and comments on certain posts are public.
  • Think twice before posting any online rants – even if you delete them afterwards, this doesn’t mean they have disappeared permanently (or haven’t been screen captured)
  • Consider the photos you post and what image this paints to people that may not know you too well. Remember that some photos go public despite your best efforts to keep them private, and that your profile photos are always open to the public – consider the image you portray.
  • Check out your digital footprint – google (other search engines are available) yourself and see what impression this give potential employees about you as a person, and if necessary take action to clean up this image.
  • Consider the impression that your photos give to others
  • Be wary adding new colleagues to your private social media pages like Facebook, instead consider using LinkedIn as a platform to network with colleagues and professional networks – and keep your LinkedIn page strictly professional.
  • Finally – if in doubt about a post, photo, comment or like – it’s probably not a good idea in the first place. If in doubt, leave it out


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