Written by Amie Case, Graduate Assistant with the Career Center, Master of Arts, English: Creative Writing.
Whether you are just beginning college, approaching graduation, or somewhere between those two points, your behavior on social media can have crucial impacts on your professional life. A single comment or post can severely damage your reputation or cost your career. Are you in danger of hurting your professional reputation?
Less said, less mended
At some point, most of us have been angered by something or someone. Unfortunately, displaying behaviors such as venting, fighting, and using profanity on social media can destroy our reputations—our “personal brand.” If you wouldn’t say it during an interview, or in front of your sweet grandmother, check yourself.
Pictures worth a thousand words
Posting images of yourself or your friends (because you are who you associate with!) with alcohol or drugs is never smart. Also, avoid displaying inappropriate images, to include memes with profanity or of an inappropriate nature. Consider setting your privacy settings so you can approve a picture before someone tags you.
Grammar nerds welcome
Punctuation, grammatical and spelling errors convey carelessness and poor education. Using ALL CAPS, misusing commas, shortening words to ur, tho, etc. are all examples of unprofessional communication. Taking the time to construct and proofread your posts and comments might mean the difference between getting your dream job or being instantly rejected.
Keep in mind that there are exceptions. Twitter limits the number of characters allowed in each tweet; therefore, it is acceptable to bend some punctuation and grammar rules in order to get your message across. Know what is acceptable for each social media platform you use. What is considered okay on Twitter may not be the same for Facebook or LinkedIn etiquette and vice versa.
Though bragging on social media about faking sickness might seem like an obvious no-no, apparently, it’s not so obvious because there’s a hashtag for it: #fakesick. Don’t use this hashtag. Ever. Don’t mention your horrific, blistering sunburn from the 3-day float trip you took while you were #Fakesick. Likewise, contain your excitement if you got Tom Felton’s autograph at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Even if you are skipping class instead of work, this hashtag demonstrates a lack of integrity that will drop you directly to the bottom of everyone else’s people-I-respect list.
Posting on social media while you’re on the company dime (or in a learning environment such as an internship or job shadow position) demonstrates disrespect and a poor work ethic. Posting about the level you finally reached on a cool new app, or sharing the online purchase you made, will be painfully obvious that you’re irresponsible and not doing your job.
Keep it secret, keep it safe
Using social media to complain or share confidential information about co-workers, clients, supervisors or your company again should be an obvious no-no, but it happens. This behavior doesn’t just ruin your reputation at work, but it can result in legal action taken against you.
You don’t have to shy away from expressing yourself on social media. Simply be critical of how you are representing yourself. Social media creates exceptional opportunities for online networking—when done correctly. Avoid costly blunders, and always be prepared to make an outstanding first impression.
For more tips on social media networking, visit the Career Center, or make an appointment with a Career Resources Specialist.