Social Media and Why What You Post Online Could Harm Your Career

Social media gaffs are nothing new but now it seems that an increasing number of employers in the UK are monitoring the social media posts of employees, both before and during their employment with them.

A recent case to hit the news was that of Rayhan Qadar who was sacked from his post at Hargreaves Lansdown for a tweet on Twitter in which he apparently joked about hitting a cyclist and driving away.  Mr Qadar has later retracted this statement claiming that it was merely a “bad joke”.  His employers caused controversy by immediately terminating his employment contract with them. (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-30700872) .  Below are a few things to watch out for in your own social media activity which could cost you your dream job:

  •  Photos from your social life – Yearly surveys by CareerBuilder have found that more than half of employers surveyed have decided not to employ someone based on their social media photos (such as Facebook or Instagram).  Common reasons included inappropriate clothing and references to drinking or drug use.  On Facebook, check your privacy settings – restrict your public profile to just profile and cover photos and be sure that these are respectful.
  •  Incriminating or disrespectful posts – Famously, some people who took part in the London riots took pictures of themselves with stolen goods and were subsequently arrested.  Students from Oxford University were fined after pictures of them drinking alcohol and ‘trashing’ each other with spray foam, confetti and flour were posted online.  Any photo that is posted online stays online, even if posts have been removed by a user, photos are ‘cached’ and remain as historical images.  Therefore, they can be found by potential employers.
  •  Posts that reflect poorly on your company or professional reputation – A prison officer at Wandsworth Prison has been sacked and four others disciplined after photos of them wearing T-shirts saying ‘We Have Madeleine McCann’ during a drunken night out were posted on Facebook.  A flight attendant in the US was sacked after posting provocative photos in uniform on an empty plane on a secret blog that she was writing about her job.
  •  Posts that reveal a lie – numerous workers have been caught out by posting photos or tagging themselves in holiday locations or nights out when they were supposedly on sick-leave from work.

So, the message is clear – your online presence should be something that you would be willing for your boss or future boss to see.  Your first step in searching for a new job should be to check whether your internet ‘self’ is one that people would love to employ.

HR, Job Seekers

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