By Ann Marie van den Hurk
Social media let us express ourselves in ways we never could before. We can “like” people’s photos and ideas with a click. We can share details of our lives in words, photos and videos right from our mobile phone. We can connect with people from all over the globe who share our interests.
While that’s great, there’s also a flip side. Being too open on social media can be a bad thing. Chances are you’ve done it.
You’ve liked or posted something you regretted or tweeted something that someone considered offensive. Social media is so very public. And your digital footprint will always be there.
Misusing social media can cost you your career. Justine Sacco found that out the hard way in December 2013. At the time, she was a public relations executive for a multinational firm. She boarded a plane to South Africa and before she shut down her phone she tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
There was great outrage regarding this tweet globally. And because it caused her Twitter stream to come under scrutiny, other questionable tweets were found. She was fired from her job. Her reputation was shredded with that tweet. And now she will forever be known as that PR person who tweeted a racist comment about Africa and AIDs.
According to a study by Jobvite, about 90 percent of employers now use LinkedIn as part of the screening process. And 66 percent are checking out candidates’ Facebook accounts and 54 percent are scanning Twitter streams.
How do you protect your career?
How you conduct yourself online is up to you. Mark Story, author of “Starting Your Career as a Social Media Manager” and a social media consultant at the National Cancer Institute, shares some helpful advice for job hunters and employees about social media.