Although many people sing the praises of social networking as a business tool, some sources have found that under certain circumstances, social networking can hurt your career.
Why Social Networking Can Hurt Your Career
There once was a time when only some people were Internet savvy. Those days are long gone. We now live in an age when the word "Google" is a verb, and just about everyone, even your grandmother, knows what it means. If you've ever typed your name into Google, you've probably noticed that despite your many impressive accomplishments, your Facebook or other social network page appears on the first search page. If your pages fail to present your professionalism in a positive light, social networking can hurt your career.
The Trouble with Tweeting
A CNN article, published in August 2009, tells woeful tales of the consequences of adding too much information on Twitter. While it's tempting to believe that a 140-character post can't possibly get you into trouble, consider the story of the guy who was offered a financially rewarding job at Cisco. He then proceeded to post a tweet that weighed the merits of a "fatty paycheck" against performing a job he would hate. A Cisco manager, unfortunately, saw his tweet, and informed him that he was planning to alert the hiring manager to the fact that their new employee already believes that he will hate the work. Bad-mouthing your company, or announcing your job search on Twitter or any other social network site, can get you fired.
Saving Face on FaceBook
The CNN article also told of a man who told his employer that he needed to be off on Halloween for a "family emergency," but then proceeded to post an incriminating picture of himself on Facebook. The employee was dressed as a fairy at a Halloween party. His boss saw the photo, copied it to an email and fired the employee. He sent the email, complete with the fairy photo, to the entire company.
Social Networking and Background Checks
A survey conducted on Career Builder detailed the ways that employers use social networking sites to screen potential employees. Apparently, 53 percent of employers use these sites in addition to performing a background check, and 43 percent failed to hire potential employees based on content found on their social networking sites. Here is the breakdown:
- Thirty-eight percent were not hired because their social networking sites revealed that they had lied about their qualifications.
- Thirty-one percent showed inadequate communication skills, so think twice about writing posts in text message language or using all lower-case communication.
- Thirteen percent were not hired because they made racist, sexist or other types of discriminatory comments.
- Comments about drug and alcohol use cost 10 percent of the applicants the opportunity for employment.
- Enjoy the risqué photos in the privacy of your own home. Posting them on social networking sites inspired nine percent of the employers to reconsider hiring certain potential employees.
- Bad-mouthing your former employer on a social networking site is a bad idea. It caused nine percent of the employers to consider different candidates.
- Sharing confidential information about your employer on social networking sites shows bad judgment. In some cases, it's actually illegal. Eight percent of the surveyed employers agreed that this would cause them not to hire someone.
The Gray Area
Potential employers cannot discriminate against people with chronic illnesses, single parents, or children or spouses with costly health conditions. While it's illegal to do so, it can have a subliminal affect on their decision. They don't need to admit that they found this information on a social networking site. They can simply say that they found a more qualified candidate. If you have any of these issues, protect your public identity by joining an online support group and joining with a pseudo-name. Your career may depend on it.