The Top 3 Facebook Posts That Could Cost You a Job

Jean Dion • March 30, 2015

As a whole, Facebook users have become a lot more leery of posting things publically. In fact, a Carnegie Mellon study of about 5,000 Facebook users suggests that as the site increased the amount of information users could share, users expressed an interest in sharing a whole lot less.

They didn't want updates that let them share data about everything they've ever done or wanted to do. They wanted to lock things down.

Even so, these same users ended up sharing a lot more than they intended to share. Why? Because the site changed settings so often that people really had no control over what was public and what was not. Let me emphasize this point: The researchers suggest that Facebook users wanted to share less.

But, at the same time, they ended up sharing more. That could have a huge, huge impact on your employment opportunities. A number of employers use social media sites to check out job applicants. And a 2014 CareerBuilder study suggests that a little more than half of employers see something on that search that keeps them from offering an applicant a job.

So if employers are screening you, and you have little control over what you're sharing, it's time to worry about what's up on Facebook.

These are the top 3 types of posts that might cause future employers a little concern.

Party Photos

Sure, it's fun to take photos during a party situation. Snaps showing you two-fisting drinks are funny, especially if you're sharing them with people who know that you don't drink all that much. Given that context, the photos seem harmless. But, if your future employer sees you holding a bunch of drinks or standing in a room full of people holding drinks, what kind of message does that send?

Unfortunately, it could send the message that you're not to be trusted. You might seem like a lush, and that could make an employer worried about your customer service skills. This kind of post is, by far, the most damning post you can make.

Remember that CareerBuilder survey? A whopping 41 percent of employers said they'd reject a candidate that posted information about drinking or using drugs. Ouch. When it comes to these topics, employers won't cut you slack. You simply must not post about them.

Racist or Sexist Rants

There are all sorts of nasty memes floating around on Facebook. You know: These are the little images that show the President of the United States looking less than presidential, or the photos of people of a specific race doing something that's commonly associated with that race. Even if you think these things are funny and even if you agree with what they say, you shouldn't share them.

And you should never create your own content that has racist or sexist undertones. I have all sorts of examples of people who did just this sort of thing and who got fired for it. (Samples are here, here and here. Believe me, there are hundreds more.) You can bet that future employers wouldn't look kindly on these sorts of posts, either. Just don't make them.

Nasty Comments About Clients or Employers

If you're out looking for a job, chances are that you're not fond of the position you have now. Maybe you're not fond of your boss, or maybe your clients aren't as kind as they could be. On the surface, Facebook can seem like a great place to vent. After all, by typing out your comments, you're keeping yourself from yelling at people in real life. And that's okay, right?

Well, not really. Comments like this are widely seen as unprofessional, and they seem to suggest that you struggle with issues involving courtesy and authority. A potential employer reading your rants is much more likely to side with your employer or your clients, not with you. And the end result? No position for you. Issues with employers should be taken up directly, in a professional manner. Same goes with clients. Leave social media out of it.

Cleanup Work

If you're reading through this list and realizing that you've broken some or even all of these rules, there's no need to panic. You can do a sweep through your posts and remove any data that might harm you. And in the future, you'll know not to make such comments. We can help with that, too. Our writers can comb your content and remove offensive posts, and we can tidy up your privacy settings, so you won't be sharing more than you should.

Just contact us, and we'll tell you more.