6 Facebook Sins That Could Cost You Your Job

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What Happens in Vegas

Given that it is 2013 and social networking isn’t a fad any longer, we’ve all become keenly aware that our online worlds can affect our real ones.

What happens in Vegas used to stay put, but now it follows you home on Facebook and haunts you forever like that thing from Paranormal Activity. Its kinda like that but for your career you see. (Disclaimer, I have never seen Paranormal Activity, because I’m very afraid of scary movies – so I hope that made my point).

Being fired because of a status update can seem deeply unfair, but social media venting often has unintended repercussions.

Being fired because of a status update can seem deeply unfair, but social media venting often has unintended repercussions.

At Talent Formula, we’ve heard too many stories about online posts leading to a person’s dismissal or a qualified candidate being denied an interview because of something a recruiter found online.

While job seekers need to carefully manage their online reputations, It is our opinion that employers have a responsibility to train staff on these issues. Training is much more cost effective than replacing staff after all. For this reason Talent Formula runs a 3 hour seminar for corporate HR teams and university career centres that covers the 6 Facebook sins that get you fired including a work shop on how to manage a professional online presence and reputation. I’d like to share with you the 6 Facebook sins below. I hope this advice ensures that a seemingly innocent tweet never stands between you and your dream job.

6 Deadly Facebook Sins

1. Sharing Inappropriate Photos

While a photo is worth a thousand words, how people read those words depends on perception, which is often missing important context. Students often share photos of themselves having fun with friends – they rarely share photos studying hard for exams. WIthout realizing it, your Instagram account makes it seem like all you do is party.

And forget about privacy settings. It is simply too easy for photos to circulate from one network to another, even without your permission. Always assume recruiters can see your posts and ask yourself, would they understand the context behind this, or is there room for misunderstanding?

2. Questionable Content

I know, you were so mad at the Game of Thrones Red Wedding that you didn’t have time to spell check that tweet, it happens. The rage is real. No big deal right? Well, even if your references and resume are flawless, most recruiters will contend that if you are careless with spelling, grammar, and bad language on social networks it’s a good indication of how you’ll act once you’re hired. Attention to detail always matters.

3. Courting Controversy

Often we feel comfortable discussing certain topics with our friends because of personal context and trust that has been built up over time. This context is missing in online settings. Misunderstandings are bound to happen, especially if you frequently discuss topics like politics or religion.

When sharing view points on controversial topics always be mindful. Try to voice opinions in a way that would appear constructive and thought out. If you think your viewpoints may be too radical for some, consider finding a safer forum to share them – like an in person conversation with friends.

4. Venting Frustrations Online

No one is immune from bad days at work, or from having a difficult manager at some point in their career. Voicing your frustration on Facebook is a great way to make sure said bad day haunts you forever. Recruiters know that if you were willing to rant online once, you won’t have an issue doing it again.

This also goes for your current job – complaining about your long day at work is a great excuse for your company to find alternate scheduling options for you, and they may not involve coming in the next day.

5. Over-sharing On The Job

Have you been to a concert lately? You’ll see thousands of people so busy taking pictures that they can’t seem to remember what it was like afterwards – at least Instagram makes it seem like they had fun. Summer internships and your first job out of school can be exciting, and its tempting to share with your friends and family, but what if it could get you fired?

I have seen students share photos from company trainings with confidential information in the background. I have see tweets raving about new product specs before they hit market, and more.

Most students share these updates out of genuine excitement without realizing they contain confidential information and their next photo ends up being a pink slip. If unsure always ask your manager or seek answers from HR. They should have clear guidelines that can help. (If they don’t, have them call us – we can help).

6. Disrespecting Clients

We often have the occasional poor experience with a product or service (long delays on flights anyone?) and we are often tempted to vent online. Consider how it may look however, if you were interviewing with an employer who’s largest client was the company you tore into on Twitter last week. It certainly won’t help your case. And the solution is simple – keep criticism constructive, instead of emotional or vindictive – you never know who’s watching.

What about sharing your favourite brands online? Raving about how the new Mustang handles, but your companies largest client builds the Camaro? Consider what clients may feel if they see your profile, and the person working on their account would rather use a competitors product. Consider how you can share your experience without showing favouritism for one brand over the other. (Especially true if you work in CPG or marketing industries).

The List Goes On

These 6 sins aren’t the only issues that can cause you trouble- our training program has many more examples in it. But these 6 social networking sins are some of the most common. They are easy to avoid and aren’t worth losing your job over or being passed over for an interview.

Remember that privacy settings don’t offer you protection, at best they give you a chance to catch content before the wrong person sees it.

Freedom of Expression

Being careful of the image you project online is not self-censorship, but being aware of how your posts and photos may be perceived requires self awareness. When interacting face to face you naturally adjust your manor of speaking to suit the situation. Online it is harder to know how, when, or why someone is interacting with your content and without that context, misunderstandings are natural. In our viewpoint, it is better to be extra cautious, than to be held back in your career simply because a recruiter or manager was missing context for an innocent status update that wasn’t intended for them anyways.

Shameless Plug: If you are interested in having Talent Formula come to your workplace or university to deliver our full 6 social sins workshop and reputation management seminar, please email
, or Tweet us at @TalentFormula.

Michael Mahoney
With a background in a multitude of fields from HR, marketing, strategy, and mobile application development, Michael has a unique perspective on how social media is changing business today. Due to his passion for social media, Michael has been featured in HR Professional Magazine and is regularly asked to comment on industry news. Look for Michael’s blog posts about top trends in social media to achieve results in the HR space.

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  • Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?

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