Alright, so maybe you know by now that you shouldn’t be posting pics of last night’s epic party to your Facebook page (as admittedly impressive as your keg stands may be). And maybe you know to avoid posting any overshares, as much as we’d all love to know the precise contours and coloration of that burrito you puked up after last night’s epic party. But just because you’ve managed to successfully navigate around the most heinous of Facebook pitfalls, doesn’t mean you’re not still damaging your career on Facebook. Here are 7 more key career Facebook fails to look out for and a number of solutions for optimizing your page:
1) Posting negative status updates whilst at work:
Whether you’re friends with your coworkers and boss or not, posting status updates while at work is a major no, as it shows that you’re off-task. (And yes, your boss knows what you’re doing when you’re staring down at the smartphone you mistakenly think you’ve effectively hidden in your lap. And if they don’t, the conclusions can’t be any more favorable). If you are friends with work people, then it’s especially key to avoid complaining about your job online or your co-workers online, lest you unleash a cascade of social media drama. Complaining about work can even be detrimental to any job searches you might be doing, as negative public posts about your workplace won’t exactly get your potential new employers excited to bring you on board just so that they can receive the same treatment. So keep it positive, avoid talking about work politics, and for the love of all that is holy, stay off of Facebook during work hours.
READ MORE: The Top Social Media Fails – at Work!
2) Using the same e-mail address with Facebook and job applications:
More often than not, when you apply for a job, your application goes directly to a manager’s email inbox at your desired company. Thing is, if that company uses an email plugin called Rapportive (and many of them do), the plugin will automatically pull all social media data associated with the address you used to apply in order to create a much more rich profile for you. That means that any of the data you’ve entered for your Facebook account is automatically sent to employers, whether you want it to be or not. So, do yourself a favor and apply to jobs using a different email address than you used to sign up for Facebook.
3) Liking everything you see:
While it’s good to be supportive, liking everything you see on Facebook makes it seem like you’ve got a little too much time on your hands. Again, this is problematic when you’re friends with co-workers or your boss, as it might make you appear off-task on the job. However, even if you’re doing all of that liking on your personal time, it can still communicate the wrong message about you. Your boss, for instance, might think that means you have plenty of free time for working late hours, since you would only going home to get on Facebook anyways. It also might seem to them like you’re not doing enough to enrich your life outside of work, whether that’s embarking on a travel adventure or taking a continuing education course directly related to your career. Overall, it’s a good idea to think before you like.
4) Not locking down on your privacy settings:
Of course, locking down your privacy settings is essential, both in terms of keeping your current job and when it comes to finding a new one. Unfortunately, last year’s switch to graph search means that you can no longer make your profile totally hidden. However, you can still go to the About section of your profile and manually set guidelines for who you want to see what. Additionally, it’s a good idea to create a list for your co-workers so you can exclude them from any posts you think might prove too controversial. You can also change the settings so that co-workers can’t see anything you’re tagged in.
5) Choosing an awful profile pic:
Again, you’re probably savvy enough to discern why that photo of you getting wild on spring break of junior year isn’t a great snapshot to choose as your profile pic. But apparently, even an appropriate but poor quality — grainy, out of focus, dark, etc. — pic can inhibit your chances of landing a good job. While you needn’t go for a boring LinkedIn style photo, when you’re actively looking for a job, it’s best to stick with a high resolution photo shot from the chest up. Doing so will not only make you look professional but will also help you appear trustworthy.
6) Posting about controversial issues:
As passionate as you may be about abortion and gun control, posting about polarizing issues like this is the quickest way to alienate employers who disagree with you — all the more so if you engage in angry debate. Yes, it’s clearly illegal to discriminate against you based on these views, but employers are bound to have at least subconscious (if not openly conscious) biases, and you wouldn’t want that to affect your hiring.
The one exception to this rule is when the controversial matter at hand has to do with your industry. In that case, posting an articulate and well-researched opinion can actually help you build expertise. That said, phrasing should still be respectful, both in the post itself and in the comments that follow.
7) Concentrating all of your social media efforts on Facebook:
If all of your news goes straight to Facebook, it’s time to consider branching out. When used the right way, social media can be an even more powerful networking tool than, well, networking. Joining interest groups on LinkedIn and following people strategically on Twitter are both great ways to meet movers and shakers in your industry and show people what you know and do through commenting. Social media is also a great place to share your expert content, and further establish your reputation. The more sites you’re active on, the more findable you’ll be via keywords that are crucial to your industry. Just remember to treat each platform as a unique entity, providing relevant content accordingly.
When you’re not careful, Facebook can easily derail your career. But it can also make your career, too — just as long as you operate strategically on the platform. So tighten up those security settings, put on your positive attitude and make the most of the tools available to you.
But seriously, take down those Cancun photos before you get fired.
Author: Beverley Reinemann is a freelance writer and blogger who spent three years travelling and working in Australia and New Zealand. Now back in London she splits her time between travelling, running her blog and her job in online marketing at Distilled.