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10 Social Media Habits That Are Bad for Your Career

Updated on March 22, 2017
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I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

When used properly, social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can boost your credibility, expand your peer and professional networks, and keep you up to date on the latest trends in your particular career or profession. But if not handled properly, these same social media tools can hurt your career prospects and damage your reputation. Here are 10 things you should avoid doing online when you're looking for a job.

When all eyes are on you, be careful not to put your professional reputation on the line.

What's shared with one person on  your social network has the potential to be shared with hundreds of other people---people you don't even know! Avoid some of these bad social media habits that can have a negative effect on your career.
What's shared with one person on your social network has the potential to be shared with hundreds of other people---people you don't even know! Avoid some of these bad social media habits that can have a negative effect on your career.

10 Things You Should Stop Doing Online Right Now

1. Online bullying or harassment of any kind. This really doesn't need much elaboration. Being a jerk in person isn't cool. Neither is being a jerk online. But beyond ruining your reputation, engaging in aggressive online communications could land you in court. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Be respectful. If you have a different opinion on something or feel the need to disagree with someone, do so in a mature and responsible manner. Whenever you're tempted to go off on a rant, picture your current or future boss standing right next to you while you're making your comments. What kind of impression would you be making?

2. Vaguebooking. Sometimes things at work get so frustrating that you just want to stand up and shout. But of course that's not a good idea. What about posting about all the things wrong with your job on Facebook? Definitely not a good idea. But if you think dropping subtle hints on social media about how bad things are at your job is a safe way to let off steam, think again. A recent article about vaguebooking highlighted some of the ways that being obtuse on social media can disrupt your personal relationships. It's a form of passive aggressive communication and it gives the impression that you don't know how to handle conflict in a direct and productive way.

3. Humblebragging. Humblebragging is what someone does when they mask a brag within a complaint. It's a form of false modesty and according to researchers at Harvard, it doesn't work. Like vaguebooking, humblebragging on social media is a bad habit that can annoy your co-workers and colleagues.

On social media like Twitter, humblebragging was negatively associated with being liked and being perceived as competent. Basically, people don’t like humblebraggers. Instead of self-promotion, humblebrags helped with self-demotion.

— Humblebragging Doesn't Work, Fortune.com

4. Not paying attention to your privacy settings. Make sure that you have strong privacy settings on your social media accounts. When you're looking for a new job or trying to make a good impression, it's vital that you create clear boundaries between your personal life and your online life. More and more prospective employers are looking at job candidates' social media profiles as part of their recruitment and screening process.

5. Sharing details about personal health or family issues. Some people feel hey have nothing to hide or be ashamed of when it comes to sharing personal health and family issues online. In a perfect world, we should be able reach out to close friends and family to share details about personal or health matters. While it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against someone due to a disability or family status, that doesn't mean it won't happen. Don't give employers any reason to question your ability to fully commit to your job.

6. Using foul language. If you wouldn't swear out loud at work, why do it online? Remember, everything you say and do on your social networks has the potential to reach unintended audiences. And even though some researchers have recently posited that swearing is actually a sign of intelligence, why take a chance that you might offend someone in your network?

7. Liking or sharing inappropriate jokes or comments, even if you're not the author. 'Liking' a racist, sexist, or derogatory joke online is a reflection of you and your values. It doesn't matter if you weren't the one who made the joke in the first place.

8. Bad-mouthing past employers or colleagues. No matter how angry you are about how things ended with a previous employer, avoid the temptation to burn your bridges. The past is the past. Always take the high road and remember, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

9. Spamming. Don't use social media tools to flood your networks with spam. Of course you want people to know you're looking for a job and you plenty of skills and experience to offer the right employer. But even your most supportive friends and colleagues have limits on how much news they want to hear about your job search.

10. Copying other people's content. It's never been easier to lift someone else words off the internet and claim them as your own. Plagiarism is a big problem online and once uncovered, it can ruin the copycat's career. Don't take shortcuts by stealing other people's content. Always give credit where credit is due.

Poll: Wasting Time on Social Media

How much time per day do you waste on social media when you should be focused on work?

See results

© 2016 Sally Hayes

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  • Lipnancy profile image

    Nancy Yager 13 months ago from Hamburg, New York

    Some people falsely assume that no one pays attention to their remarks but the reality is that they do.

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