As much as you may want to keep your professional life and personal life as separate as possible, the rise of the internet, and particularly the popularisation of social media, has made this goal more difficult than ever to achieve.
You should never fall into the trap of thinking that your online self, and ‘real life’ self are two different entities; they are one and the same. What you do, what you say, they way you interact, and the images you post on social media can have a very real, negative and lasting effect on your life and career. It’s a lesson that for some has come much too late. Indeed not a day goes past when we do not hear of some foolish politician or other high ranking employee whose career lies in tatters, all as a result of an ill conceived upload to social media.
Twitter and Instagram are often the platforms which are the biggest source of these employment tales of woe, but it’s fair to say Facebook has gained a hefty reputation in this regard as well. Being such a personalised and ‘social’ platform, people often find it difficult to filter what is and isn’t appropriate, and fail to appreciate that once something has been uploaded it (in theory) can never be removed!
What’s more with the likelihood that you will be ‘Facebook friends’ with the people that you work with, and perhaps even your boss, there is little you can do to hide your activities from therm.
- Give yourself a stupid name- Especially if it is something rude / offensive. Employers and co-workers want to know that they are working with a professional, and having some odd name on your Facebook profile denotes a certain level of immaturity that is best avoided.
- Send a friend request to someone you only know on a professional level– Many people are of the opinion that Facebook is solely a personal platform and therefore might resent the idea of someone they only know in a professional capacity trying to connect with them. Linkedin in the place for connecting with people on a professional level, respect people’s right to a personal life and don’t request a friendship on facebook unless you are certain it is appropriate
- Say anything negative about your employer or the company that you work for- Apart from the fact that it is incredibly tacky to air such grievances in public, it could get you into a lot of trouble at work. People have been given the sack for less serious social media activities. Do the sensible thing and raise any issues with your employer and leave social media out of it.
- Include details of where you work without considering the ramifications carefully- Once you have listed your place of employment on Facebook, you have created a direct reference to them within your personal profile, meaning that they will have an automatic interest in everything that you say or do within the platform. Consider very carefully whether your behaviour on Facebook could come under scrutiny from your employer because of this link.
- Pull a sicky and then contradict it with Facebook posts. This is perhaps the most common reason that people Face disciplinaries or worse because of their behaviour on Facebook. You shouldn’t be pulling a sicky anyway, but if you do, resist the temptation to post to Facebook… you might just regret it!
If you have found this useful, you might like to take a look at some of these recent posts;
How to make your Facebook profile professional
Did I just tweet that? How to avoid damaging your career online