As if finding your dream job wasn’t challenging enough, now there’s another element to throw into the mix. Your social media footprint. And whilst we all understand that we shouldn’t post things that might come back to bite us, it can sometimes happen without you realising it.
Maybe a friend has tagged you in a photo where you were, ahem, ‘partying’. Or you opened your Facebook account at 14 years old, and ten years later you’ve forgotten those strident views the young teenage version of yourself posted. Or the Uni freshers’ week photos where you did a bit of, shall we call it, experimenting. Most employers will check a candidate’s social media profile as part of their recruitment process, and unfortunately, once something is out there, it’s very hard to remove it.
Hopefully, none of our readers will be as daft as this example of careless tweeting we found on the internet.
Tweet — “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the fat paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”
Reply from Cisco — “Who is the hiring manager? I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”
The trouble is, the power of online is so great, that even if you delete something questionable right away, it could have spread far and wide.
What are the dangers areas? And what can you do to avoid embarrassing or implicating yourself on social media? Here are the main three areas where you might accidentally trip yourself up.
Breaking the law
We’re not suggesting that you would be involved in anything serious. But remember that today everyone carries a video phone in their pocket. If you get caught up in something that at the time seems like a bit of fun, like splashing in a fountain at New Year, but that in retrospect could be deemed disorderly behaviour, there’s a chance it will be caught on camera. And possibly shared over and over again.
If you regularly comment on social media posts or perhaps write a blog, be aware that you can inadvertently break the law. Because many of us do small things we shouldn’t, almost without realising it, for example, illegally copying a DVD or finding a way to download paid content for free. And if you blog or comment about it, you are exposing yourself legally.
Incriminating yourself at work
Being careless about what you say about your employer can come with a high cost. As the example above shows, large organisations will constantly be scanning social media for mentions of their name. Complain about your job, your employer or your boss at your own risk.
There are other issues to consider at work. You could post something that is considered insider trading, e.g. “directors are buying up shares at a rate of knots — think I’ll do the same”. That selfie you snapped of yourself — but it’s in a restricted area.
Or a photo of something commercially sensitive — “loving the new brand” — oops, that brand hasn’t been launched yet!
We all have a friend that fills their social media with photos of them hitting the nightlife, posing in their underwear or indulging in questionable activities, all seemingly without any thought — or any security settings! Don’t be that person. And be circumspect in what you post about potentially inflammatory subjects, religious or political views, for example.
So, what can you do to minimise the risk?
Prevention is better than cure so think twice before you post. Would you be happy for your boss to see or read this? If you hesitate to give a resounding yes, then resist. Of course, it’s not just what you post. So ..
Review your security settings — a well-meaning friend, a disgruntled ex-partner; they can post and tag you if you let them. Ensure that you get a request before being tagged, and only allow friends to view your posts. You can also adjust settings so that your social media accounts don’t appear in Google searches.
Finally, do a social media audit of yourself — if you can delete material, do so, or if not, try to hide it via privacy settings. Obviously, search all the major platforms and Google but also try searching for yourself on https://pipl.com. You might be surprised what pops up!