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Career Advice : Social Media Pitfalls

Social Media Pitfalls

Rachel Zupek, CareerBuilder.com writer

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As social media becomes the latest branding strategy, networking technique, job seeking tool and recruitment vehicle, it's also becoming the latest way for people to get job offers rescinded, reprimanded at work and even fired.

It's happened so many times -- publicized and not -- that one would think we could learn from others' mistakes. (But, if that were the case, I wouldn't have anything to write about, now would I?)

A recent Tweet by a potential Cisco employee, for example, turned ugly when he decided to tout a recent job offer:

"Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work."

Unfortunately for "theconnor" (the handle for the would-be employee), Tim Levad, a "channel partner advocate" for Cisco, saw the tweet and responded with this:

"Who is the hiring manger, I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web."

Terrible tweets
Everyone has their "My-job-sucks," "I-hate-my-co-workers," or "Give-me-more-money" moments. But, they seem to forget that as employers increase their online presence using social networking sites as recruitment and branding strategies, it might be best for their career not to have these moments on the Internet.

Paul Wilson, a freelance/corporate Web marketer and blogger, found several of such moments on Twitter, a social networking and micro-blogging site, and posted these "Top 10 Tweets to Get You Fired" [sic'd]:

1. "hate my job!! i want to tell my bosses how dumb they are and how meaningless this job is, then quit, and be happy!"

2. "So my job was to test all the food at the new resturant, can I just say, ughew. I'm going to taco bell then twistee treat."

3. "Workin... This job sucks worse then the economy!"

4. "I'm going to work! Walmart! Must find better job! I hate it when chicks there have a deeper voice than me and refer to me as foo!"

5. "Also I'm really bummed that I'm working today, i asked off so i could study but my boss is a ******* **** ***** ***** who can't read."

6. "Coworker smuggled out a chair for me. Currently being paid to SIT around and listen to John Barrowman on my iPod. I don't hate my job today!"

7. "having sex dreams of people you work with makes for an awkward day."

8. "smoking weed at work is so [EDITED] great :)"

9. "It's bad when you overhear the n00b programmer say "I used to work at McDonalds with him" and you wonder if he is talking about the CEO..."

10. "Huh, with my boss on twitter, maaaybe I should take down that sexy picture of her... but her reaction will be priceless!"

Facebook fired
Twitter is not the only culprit in career self-destruction. Facebook, a popular social networking site, has housed its fair share of user firings:

Kimberly Swann, a former employee for Ivell Marketing and Logistics of Clacton, U.K., thought her job was boring -- and she said so on her Facebook page, according to an article in The Daily Telegraph. Swann was called into her manager's office and handed a letter that cited her Facebook comments as the reason for dismissal:

"Following your comments made on Facebook about your job and the company we feel it is better that, as you are not happy and do not enjoy your work we end your employment with Ivell Marketing & Logistics with immediate effect."

An MSNBC article remembers Kevin Colvin, the legendary young intern who e-mailed his boss, claiming a "family emergency" would keep him out of the office around Halloween. His co-workers (and Facebook friends), however, saw a photo of Colvin dressed as a fairy at a Halloween party time-stamped on the same day of the "emergency." Colvin's boss responded to him with an e-mail CC'd to the entire company, firing him and including the incriminating fairy picture.

In March 2009, the same MSNBC article cites Dan Leone, a Philadelphia Eagles stadium employee, who was fired after slamming the football organization for trading a player in this status update:

"Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver. . .Dam Eagles R Retarted!![Sic]"

Two days later, the head of event operations said they needed to talk about his Facebook status; instead, he got the boot.

Social networking don'ts
If you want to use your profile to get hired or -- or at least not get fired -- here are three basic rules to keep in mind:

1. Don't announce interviews, raises or new jobs
As exemplified by "theconnor," how you talk about any of these sensitive topics on your social networking site is key. If you're unemployed, writing "Interview today -- wish me luck!" would be OK, or if you got a job, something along the lines of "So excited about my new job!" is totally acceptable. If you're currently employed, however, I don't think your boss would be too happy to see something like, "Trying to con my boss into giving me a $5K raise. SUCKA!"

2. Don't badmouth your current or previous employer
Just like in an interview, keep your rants about your boss or company to yourself. If hiring managers see that you're willing to trash a colleague online they assume you'll do it to them, too. Plus, there's always the possibility of getting fired if someone sees your negative comments.

3. Don't mention your job search if you're still employed
If your boss knows you're on the lookout for a new job, feel free to advertise it in your status. If you're keeping your search below the radar, however, don't publish anything, anywhere. Even if you aren't connected to your boss online, somebody can get the information back to him or her.

Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CBwriterRZ.



Last Updated: 09/06/2009 - 4:14 PM


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