Joe unexpectedly found himself in the hot seat. His internship employer did what many companies do and checked out Joe’s social media pages. Joe’s Facebook cover photo showed his face superimposed on the iconic Hawaiian driver’s license from the movie Superbad. Yes, Joe was a funny kid. Unfortunately, his mentor wasn’t laughing. He had never seen Superbad and thought Joe changed his name to McLovin and was flaunting his fake ID. That was bad for the company’s image and grounds for dismissal. Fortunately for Joe, the mentor seized the opportunity to use the incident as a teaching moment. After a few awkward conversations, Joe apologized, was able to keep his summer job, and had a fantastic internship experience.
It wasn’t just Joe who screwed up. In February, a teenager in Texas got herself into huge trouble after tweeting about her new job. The day before she started, she Tweeted “Ew I start this (expletive) job tomorrow”. She was fired by her boss (via Twitter) before she got a chance to start.
Of course it’s not just teens. Anyone applying for a job, internship, or even those already employed are fair game for social media scrutiny. Many recruiters look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, and many others to find out information about people online before hiring them. Employers can easily scan social media to check up on the activities of current employees.
So can you keep your image in check?
Privacy, please. Keep it as locked down as you can! Some sites do not allow privacy settings for certain photos (Facebook cover and profile photo, for example). So avoid posting photos of yourself doing something embarrassing, unprofessional, or illegal!
Watch what your friends post. Be careful of tagging. You don’t want to be associated with an inappropriate, tasteless, or idiotic photo or post.
Don’t snitch on yourself. Did you call in sick one day? Don’t post a picture of yourself at the beach or mall. It’s probably not your boss who will see it on Instagram. It’s likely the disgruntled co-worker (who had to pick up the slack while you were out) who took a screenshot of the Snapchat photo and shared it with Mr. Boss.
Review your Pinterest boards and Youtube channels. What do they say about you? Imagine your grandmother looking at those boards – then decide what should stay or go.
Mind your Tweets and posts. Don’t bash people–especially your boss or coworkers. And watch those subtweets–clever observers will figure out you’re talking about them. Badmouthing people just makes you look bad. Super bad.