Like it or not, the way you use social media can help or harm your career.
One recent survey found that more than 70 per cent employers use social networks to screen potential job candidates, and the number is growing.
This means your social media posts and profile can be used to evaluate your character and personality. Many employers base their hiring decisions on what they see.
The same survey showed that over 40 per cent of employers scan social to check on current employees, potentially affecting their potential for advancement in the company.
"Because we tend to view our personal social media accounts as being 'personal,' there's a good chance that by viewing someone's profile, you'll get a glimpse into their personality beyond the resume," said public relations consultant, DeeAnn Sims.
This doesn’t mean that job candidates should erase their entire social media profile. Not having a profile could lead some employers to feel you have somethings to hide, says Ms Sims. Moreover, most employers scouring social media profiles and content are actually looking for reasons to hire someone.
To keep out of trouble and use social media to boost your career prospects, follow these basic rules:
1. Don’t post provocative or inappropriate photos, videos, or information
Inappropriate images, dirty jokes, discriminatory comments about race, gender or religion are major turn-offs and can do major harm to your reputation and your career.
In one recent case, Australia’s Fair Work Commission ruled an employee could be sacked for sending inappropriate images to Facebook friends, including colleagues. When the employee appealed the decision, the commission found that the offense was sufficiently connected to his employment, and that the employer was justified in terminating his employment.
2. Don’t embellish (lie about) your qualifications
According to one survey, up to 80 per cent of resumes are intentionally misleading. Also some people are tempted to doctor their social media profiles to hide employment gaps, claim bogus university degrees, embellish their job experience, and more.
But savvy hiring managers are adept at using social media and psychometric testing to expose such cheating.
3. Don’t post photos of yourself partying on a “sick day”
Also don't post photos of yourself having a good time when you're supposedly on a sick day.
In one case, a hospitality worker was sacked after he was allegedly seen on social media celebrating on New Year's Eve, a day he'd taken off sick. Despite his claim that the dismissal was unfair, his claim was rejected by the Fair Work Commission.
4. Limit your use of social media at work
Depending on your job, you might be able to access your social media accounts via your work computer or smartphone.
Many employers monitor their workers’ web traffic and can tell how long you’ve been using social media. If you are excessively checking your accounts to the point that it's interfering with your work, your employer may be able to take disciplinary action.
5. Don’t vent online
Had a hard day at work? Don’t blow off steam by telling everybody online. This is one of the most common ways employees land themselves in hot water.
“In Australia, there is no general right to privacy when it comes to social media," Employment lawyer Mia Pantechis told the ABC.
"Controversial comments on social media about the workplace can land an employee in hot water even if those comments are posted on a personal account and are made outside of work hours."
Enjoy using social media. But always consider how your online footprint might impact your professional reputation or future career opportunities. Simply put, don’t post anything that others could consider inappropriate.