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The Financial Blow of a Social Media Faux Pas

Anna Cadwallader
Wavebreak Media

Wavebreak Media


A few years ago, Facebook became all the rage to connect with your friends and post constant updates abut your life. With the emergence of the mobile version, it was even easier to keep your circle updated on your every move from what you had at Starbucks that morning, to a picture of your outfit of the day, to your thoughts about your commute home — information overload. Suddenly, more social media outlets, like Twitter and Instagram, were popping up and becoming just as influential as Facebook. With the influx of social media use, many companies sought to investigate these outlets to understand a job candidate’s “real life.”

You might have rolled your eyes when your old and less-than-tech-savvy parents called to warn you about posting on your Facebook page, but it’s true — Mom and Dad knew best. Unfortunately, anything you post on the Internet or on these social sites will leave a footprint and can easily be found and used against you. A social media faux pas can have a profoundly negative impact on your job search or current career. Here’s more information about the financial aspect of a social media faux pas:

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The Background

You may have outstanding credentials on paper, but when it comes to social media and a job search, companies are hoping to find out what you’re really like outside of the professional world. So, they turn to your social media handles for more information. This new form of background checking has proven to be detrimental to many jobseekers, whose seemingly innocent picture of a keg stand is now coming back to haunt them by costing them their potential new job. CareerBuilder.com published results from a recent survey reporting that approximately 40 percent of companies use social networking sites to investigate potential hires. A similar survey conducted by On Device Research recently reported that 10 percent of young potential hires have lost a potential job because of compromising content on their social media handles.

Social Media No No’s

So what constitutes “compromising content” that won’t land you the job? According to the CareerBuilder.com, here are some things that won’t get you hired:

  • Inappropriate, racy, or offensive photographs or posts
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Disloyalty to a former employer or bad-mouthing an employer
  • Confidential information pertaining to your work
  • Inadequate communication skills including poor grammar
  • Religious, gender, or racial comments
  • False information about qualifications or experience

If you have a job, this doesn’t mean you’re exempt from appropriate social media use. There are several instances of social media career enders.

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Career Hinderers or Enders

All politics aside, take former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was involved in a major Twitter scandal, as an example of one of the greatest social media faux pas. Even if you’re not in the constant spotlight, it’s likely your social media accounts are still scrutinized by employers or colleagues. Take a teacher at Apalachee High in Georgia, for example. According to a Forbes article, the said teacher used vulgar language and posted photos of her drinking on a social media outlet. When the principal caught wind, the teacher was asked to resign. No matter how famous you are, use discretion when putting something in writing on social media.

The Company Cost

If you’re responsible for managing a social account for a company, be extremely careful. First, you should always double check before posting. There are numerous incidents in which an employee accidentally posted something meant for a personal account on a company’s account airing to thousands or millions of followers. A mistake like this can easily cause you to lose your position and even cost the company a lot of money. Such errors can cost companies an average of $4.3 million, according to Symantec’s 2011 Social Media Protection Flash Poll. This number includes lower stock price, litigation expenses, damage to the brand and trust, and lost revenue.

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Protect Yourself

Privacy settings only go so far, so think twice before you post something. Instead, try to use your social media accounts effectively to attract potential employers. The same CareerBuilder.com survey reported that 19 percent of hiring managers found something on a candidate’s social media handle that actually positively influenced hiring. These positive aspects include:

  • A professional image
  • A clear perspective of the candidate’s personality
  • Well-rounded with many interests
  • Creativity
  • Good communication skills
  • Positive references

Just remember that you don’t need to put everything in writing because the inappropriate posts will come back to haunt you. As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it or show it to your boss, then don’t post it — it’ll save you a lot of embarrassment and money.

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