Ten Ways Social Media Will Derail Your Job Search

Updated: November 17, 2010

  1. Too much information. TMI is a standard concept these days, and any potential employer is likely to run at the first mention of your sex life, your bathroom habits or any other over-the-top type of sharing that's not appropriate for public consumption. If you wouldn't talk to your grandmother about it, don't post it on Facebook.
  2. Unprofessional behavior, caught on camera. This is one that people well into adulthood still seem to not understand. If you're doing something unprofessional or inappropriate, and you're caught on camera - don't let your friends tag you in those photos on Facebook. Same goes for videos. Keep visual proof of your bad or embarrassing behavior away from social media. Many an employee and student have been fired or expelled due to racist Halloween costumes, embarrassing posed photos or even practical jokes. There are things you just don't want to post online. Your future boss will not understand the jokes like your friends do.
  3. Check-ins at questionable places, or odd hours. Check-ins can reveal a lot more about your personal habits than you might want to share - so be careful. Check-ins, whether it's Facebook, Yelp or Foursquare, essentially allow anyone to track you, so keep that in mind every time you pull out that smartphone.
  4. Boring content. If you over-post about what you're having for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or spam your friends & followers with Farmville requests or generic invites, an employer might think you're not social media savvy. The first reason for de-friending or opting out of a fan page is too many posts, followed thereafter by boring posts. So avoid this at all costs. Be sparing about what you share, and always keep it interesting.
  5. Complaints about work. This is a no brainer. Complaints about your current job are not something you should share via social media. If you hate your gig, vent to friends in the privacy of your own home - don't post it for the world to see. Even if you think you have your privacy settings secure enough, you never know who might squeak by, and complaints about a current or former job will send new employers running for the hills.
  6. Friend association. Is your friend list a collection of young girls in revealing clothing or people doing beer bongs? If so, you might want to pare down that list and get rid of the clutter. Potential employers may be turned off by negative associations, so hopefully your friends don't sound any alarms.
  7. Negativity. This is one that's hard to hide. If you're a highly negative person, it will likely come across in your social media posts. If you're constantly unhappy and complaining about one thing or another, potential employers will likely think you'll be a Debbie Downer in the workplace - and no one wants that. Try to keep it positive.
  8. Lack of friends or followers. If you have 10 followers on Twitter, and you're applying for a Director of Social Media position - you may have a problem. Employers expect you to practice what you preach. You can't claim to be an expert and have the ability to grow fans & followers for a company if you're unable to do it for yourself. Boost those numbers so employers can see that you know what you're doing.
  9. Misspellings or bad grammar. Even in the age of digital snippets and abbreviations, misspellings and lack of proper English are major no-nos. Employers want to know you can communicate and express yourself appropriately, and if you're constantly making spelling mistakes or displaying awful grammar, this is bad news. Take the time to proofread before you post - and don't forget to spell-check.
  10. Drinking or drugs. This is about as obvious as it gets. DO NOT post photos or comments about yourself engaging in illegal or irresponsible behavior. Ever. You never know who might come across it, and it could completely ruin your career if it fell into the wrong hands. No employer is ok with this, no matter what you might think, so be careful.
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