How to Avoid Ruining Your Career Using Facebook

While Facebook may seem harmless if you don’t post anything untoward yourself, you should definitely be aware of the negatives. A recent study from three US-based universities suggests that your Facebook profile can be a predictor of job performance. In an experiment, three “raters” (one university professor and two students) evaluated the Facebook profiles of 56 students with jobs. After spending just 10 minutes viewing each profile, including photos, wall posts, comments, education and hobbies, the raters answered a series of personality-related questions, such as “Is this person dependable?” and “How emotionally stable is this person?” Six months later, the researchers matched the ratings against employee evaluations from each student and found a strong correlation between job performance and the Facebook scores for traits such as conscientiousness, agreeability and intellectual curiosity.

So what can you do to avoid a down fall? Some simple tips from experts of what not to do include:

  • Posting inappropriate photos – this goes without saying but these obviously can affect your image at work. Although this isn’t just about wild parties and drunken antics. Think about inappropriate or offensive attire too. Even just posting a seemingly innocent photo in a social situation may not be appropriate for the industry that you work in.
  • Complaining about your job or work – there’s the famous case last year of a worker who vented about her boss on Facebook and was publically fired by that same boss (via a responding Facebook comment) the very same day. While you might not get fired, negative posts about work can make you appear immature, untrustworthy and simply not committed to the role or the company. Sometimes after a bad day at work you just want to vent – but take a deep breath first and think about whether you’d say the same thing in person – if not, then resist the urge to post.
  • Divulging conflicting or confidential information – employers will often use Facebook and other forms of social media to ‘confirm’ claims made in your Resume. If they don’t match, watch out – you won’t be called in for an interview. Conflicting details ring alarm bells for most employers and where there are plenty of candidates to choose from – this is a reason to exclude you. Likewise, divulging confidential information about your company that perhaps hasn’t yet been released to the public domain could land you in hot water.
  • Doing one thing and saying another – again this goes without saying but you’d be surprised at the stories we’ve heard. Take for example, the employee that was supposed to be ‘working from home’ who posted a status update that she was away for a long weekend. Don’t forget that Facebook isn’t a private conversation with an individual or even a group of friends – it’s always open to public scrutiny.
  • Being controversial – this is a tricky one because obviously you want to be true to yourself, and your opinions and feelings, however posting strong opinions on controversial topics could be seen as negative in the eyes of your employer or colleagues. Facebook can be used to validate your professional persona and/or undermine your credibility so be careful what you say.

If you are a Facebook user, make sure you take some time to understand your security and privacy settings, but don’t use that as a security blanket because it’s not foolproof.

If you would like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service or check out our Job Search Coaching Service

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