We’ve all been warned about taking care with the information we choose to post on Facebook. Over the years, that message has sunk in. As we reported here in March of 2015, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say Facebook users are sharing less than they used to.
But where do we draw the line? In late 2016, as the United States reached the end of a bruising and divisive Presidential campaign, supporters of the two main candidates turned to Facebook to express their delight or dismay at the election results. Some of them paid a price.
“I unfriended at least ten people today,” one user told The Chicago Tribune. She took that action, she explained, because the former friends supported a candidate she abhorred.
Some of it cuts close to home. “I unfriended my brother and sister-in law today,” another user said. “Seeing their posts and ‘likes’ just serves as a sad reminder to me of how little we have in common.”
In short, the stuff you post to Facebook can have unforeseen consequences. Setting aside the election, most of us are learning to be more circumspect.
Even so, we may be sharing more than we realize. That’s because Facebook keeps finding new ways for users to provide information, such as the seemingly innocuous new “like” button the social media giant introduced in the spring of 2016.
So if you aren’t careful, you end up sharing more than you intend to. That could have an enormous impact on future employment opportunities. More and more employers use social media sites to check out job applicants, and more than half of them, according to a 2014 CareerBuilder study unearth something results in them rejecting an otherwise qualified job applicant.
But forewarned is forearmed, right? Here is a review of the top three types of posts that could keep you from landing the job you really want.
Sure, it’s fun to take pictures at a party. Those snaps showing you slamming drinks are funny, especially if you’re sharing them with people who know you’re not really much of a party animal. In that sense, the pictures seem pretty harmless. But if a potential 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.
In that CareerBuilder survey, forty percent of the employers who were asked said they’d reject a candidate who posted information about drinking or using drugs. When it comes to these topics, employers won’t cut you slack. The message is plain enough, but let’s be crystal clear: don’t post that stuff.
Racist and Sexist Rants
There are all sorts of bigoted and mean-spirited memes on Facebook, and we’ve all seen them. You know: racist images that draw on reprehensible stereotypes, for example. Even if you think these things are funny, it’s in your best interest not to share them.
And you should know better than to create your own content that has racist or sexist undertones. There numerous examples of people who did, and it cost them their jobs. (Samples are here, here and here. There are hundreds more.) You can bet that future employers won’t appreciate these sorts of posts, so don’t make them.
They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. Some try to serve it lukewarm: maybe you don’t like your boss, or maybe your clients aren’t people you would socialize with. Facebook might seem like a great place to vent.
You’d better think twice. Or maybe three times. Trashing colleagues or clients online is unprofessional, and could suggest to others that you struggle with courtesy and have a problem with authority. Whether it’s deserved or not, a potential employer who Googles your name and finds your rants is likely to side with your employer or your clients. The result? You won’t be hired.
If you’re reading this list and realize you’ve broken some or all of these rules, there’s no need to panic. Sweep through your posts and remove any data that might harm you. If it’s more than you can handle, the Online Reputation Management specialists at InternetReputation.com can go through your content and remove offensive posts. We can tidy up your privacy settings, too, so you won’t be sharing more than you should.