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How To Avoid Letting Social Media Ruin Your Career

By Erik Folgate

facebook and career Every day I see people my age and younger post STUPID stuff on their Facebook wall or Twitter feed. I cringe every time I see it, because they don’t even realize who’s looking at that content or who could be looking at it in the future. We used to treat Facebook like it was just a place for only you and your best friends to connect and share anything and everything together. Twitter started out as a great way to vent and spew out whatever was on our minds at any given moment and get instant feedback. But, now a lot of employers, bosses, and human resource departments are searching for your name on Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and it’s VERY easy to find you. This kind of makes you think twice about posting that photo of you doing a keg stand in college, eh?

I think people should have fun and be creative on social networks, but if you care about your job or your future career, you MUST start being more careful with what content you post on social networks. This goes for high school students, college students, recent grads, and even those people that are self-employed. It’d be pretty embarrassing for a potential client to read your latest status update about how you woke up this morning curled up in the bathroom with no recollection of what happened the night before. Here are a few tips to help you avoid letting social media ruin your current or future career.

On my personal blog, I did a short screen cast that navigates you through some of the Facebook privacy settings. Take a few minutes to set up the privacy settings on your Facebook profile. If you’re someone who likes to party and have a good time and you don’t want your boss or a future employer seeing your personal life, then you need to set all of your privacy settings to “Friends Only” and be very selective with who you let in on your Facebook profile. A lot of people don’t realize that Facebook profiles are searchable on search engines, and they’ve also started allowing Facebook status updates to be crawled and indexed on Google and other search engines. Literally, if a future employer wants to find out more intimate details about you, all they have to do is Google your name.

Take A Deep Breathe Before You Post An Update: I think mindless ranting is what gets people in the most trouble with their bosses or with future employers, because they spout off on whatever just made them angry, and they normally wouldn’t broadcast that thought to hundreds of people if they first took a deep breathe and calmed down. Before you pick up your phone and send an angry update out of haste towards a co-worker, your boss, or about a friend, just take a minute to cool down. Besides, no one wants to read your whiney updates, anyway!

Don’t Take Compromising Photos/Videos: Sure, you can just elect NOT to post the compromising photos, but how about just not taking them at all? With a camera on just about every phone, you can’t stop people from taking photos of you, but you’re GROWN UP now. Don’t put yourself in bad situations, and no embarrassing photos or videos will pop up on Facebook or Twitter. I’m not a prude, and I understand that every now and then you want to blow off some steam or just act goofy and let loose, but how about not documenting every minute of it?

Make Your Twitter Account Private: I’m not a big fan of making your Twitter Account private because it defeats the viral and social nature of Twitter, but if you’re addicted to Twitter and you don’t want to be constantly thinking about whether or not your updates are politically correct, then your best bet is to make the account private. This allows you to approve those that want to follow you, so only people you allow can see your Twitter updates. To do this, log into your account and click on “Settings” in the upper right corner. Scroll down and check mark, “Protect My Tweets.”

Use Your Social Profiles To Further Your Career

I could write a whole different article about using your social media profiles to develop your career, and maybe I will, but just know that your Facebook profile and Twitter profile can actually be a strong tool for developing your career. You can establish an authoritative voice by answering questions on LinkedIn, feed blog posts into your Facebook/Twitter profiles, and share links to relevant professional articles. Doing this kind of stuff displays your passion and expertise in your career field. Think about that before you post the video of you and your friends streaking through campus.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • http://everydaytipsandthoughts.com Everyday Tips

    You raise very good points. That is the very reason that I set up a completely separate facebook identity for my blog. I personally do not tend to swear or make inappropriate comments on facebook. However, I cannot say the same for some of my friends, and their posts would end up on my wall.

  • http://www.yourfinances101.com/blog David/yourfinances101

    If you wouldn’t say it or show it in public, then don’t put it on your Facebook page.

    That’s what I’ve always heard.

    Facebook can suck the life out of your time management skills if you let it.

    I limit myself to using it for marketing purposes only.

    If I want to keep in touch with friends, there’s about a million other ways to do it.

  • Pingback: Blinded By The Blog | Your Finances 101

  • http://twitter.com/FreshkidRuben Ruben Ramirez

    I think it is ridiculous for people to scrutinize something that has been said if it was a song lyric or quote from a movie. The hard part , however, is that not all people know where that may be from and believe you started it.

  • Proud_piinay_chiic510

    “I think people should have fun and be creative on social networks, but if you care about your job or your future career, you MUST start being more careful with what content you post on social networks. This goes for high school students, college students, recent grads, and even those people that are self-employed.” <– THIS. Very much.

    What people should do is to create ANOTHER account in where they could post stupid stuff. They should have one main account in which they use to communicate with friends, co-workers etc and another account in where they could goof off and post whatever the hell they like. That's what I'm doing.

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