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Can Selfies Cost You Your Job?

Updated on July 7, 2014

Selfitis Hoax

In April 2014, it was declared that Selfitis was an officially recognised condition by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), defined as the inflammation of one's ego as a result of taking too many selfies.

While this statement was, in fact a hoax, it nonetheless went viral and opened up many debates on whether there was actually some substance to the claim. The hot topic now seems to be the suggestion that the self obsession of taking numerous selfies points towards a low self esteem, or indeed narcissism.

To Pose or Not to Pose?

So, you want everyone you know to see that you are having a fun filled life, so you take a selfie or five to share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media platform that has an upload function. Great! You're life is fabulous, you are fabulous and you want to share the love. Nothing wrong with that, but how does the rest of the world really see you, in particular, your employer?

There appears to be an unwritten rule that selfies must only be uploaded if one pouts and does a weird twisty shoulder thing into a contortionist position where the picture taking arm is extended diagonally upward and the chin is tucked firmly down to eliminate the (shock horror!) chance of a double chin. Now, that sentence in itself was difficult to read, but surely not as difficult as holding such an unnatural pose?

Now, here's the thing - you may have perfected your pout, the sucking in of your tummy and for the professionals out there; the avoidance of making your extended arm not appear like it has elephantitis, but, I hate to break the news to you; employers don't feel the same way as you. For most jobs (I'll come to exceptions later) your boss will just assume you are self indulgent and in some cases, self-obsessed.

This might be a good time to point out that a "duck face" isn't attractive, ever!

Selfie Quote

A selfie a day keeps employers away.

Your Background Can Impact Your Future

When you are posing for your selfie, you are no doubt, looking at the image of yourself in the camera, but what about the background? It always amazes me that selfie takers upload their photo into the public domain, yet haven't considered their surroundings.

What does the background of your photograph say about you? If you have applied for a job and the employer checks out your online social profile, then up you pop on lots of self-taken pics with chaos in the background, they are unlikely to focus on how beautiful you look. Instead, they will be judging you based on the dirty clothes strewn across the floor in your bedroom, or last night's dishes stacked up on the kitchen work surface. They will assume that if you are messy at home, you will be messy at work. Hardly a selling point is it?

Quick Poll

How Many of Your Facebook Profile Photos Are Selfies?

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Speaking with the Sunday Mirror, Dr David Veale, a consultant psychotherapist in cognitive behavioural therapy, disclosed that two thirds of the patients who come to see him with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, repeatedly take and post selfies to social media platforms, often taking hours to capture the perfect shot that doesn't show any flaws, which probably wouldn't be noticed by the viewer - only them.

In one extreme case, British teenager Danny Bowman spent over 10 hours a day trying to capture the perfect selfie in order to attract girls. After dropping out of school and rapid weight loss, he attempted suicide by taking an overdose, which thankfully his mother saved him from.

Regardless of the level of extremity, any obsession with appearance can have a detrimental effect on your career. You may feel that you are a perfectionist, but an employer is more likely to think that you spend far too much time on your personal appearance, so will therefore not apply as much concentration and detail on tasks at work.

Taking an abundance of selfies and sharing them online may lead to a current or future employer assuming you are needy, low in self esteem, in need of constant praise or recognition and a tendency towards addiction.

Caught in the Act

Imagine the scene - you've called in sick to work, you're boss is sympathetic and that is that. Yet, your boss dips into Facebook during a break and there you are in all your selfie glory with a blow by blow photographic account of your exploits the night before. There you are, duck face, on the world wide web, snap happy in the before, during and after the previous evening. Even worse; you have just posted some more photos this morning looking sad telling the world you have had to take the day off work due to a self inflicted "illness."

OK, so you've been caught out. You're not really sick, just hung over. It's just once, right? You're boss will be forgiving? Hmmmm, now think about all the other selfies that are on your timeline and profile pictures that depict the same scenario over and over again. You have now gone from a one time skiver to party animal in your boss' mind in a few minutes.

"Ah, but my boss isn't a friend on my Facebook", I hear you cry "and anyway, my security settings are such that only my friends can see my photos." Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but once your photos are posted, they are owned by Facebook and can therefore pop up anywhere on the internet. Even if you have what you think are watertight security settings, your photos can still be shared, copied and tagged on this or any other site your friends (or friends of friends) choose to take the time to do.

Stop and think before you snap!
Stop and think before you snap!

Selfie Fails

There are hundreds of other stories when selfies have gone wrong and many more in inappropriate situations - funerals are probably top of the list, but sharing your love of being snap happy, while sitting on the photocopier at work, in the boss' chair or with a background showing sensitive or confidential company information will probably lead you down the slippery path to being fired.

Think before you post. What is the worst thing your boss or future employer could think or presume about you when viewing your photos?

Take a look at some of your friend's selfies. What is your initial reaction when you see them? Be completely honest with your emotions, then take a step back and think about how your current photos may be perceived. If they are not appropriate for employment; remove them.

When selfies work well.

Of course, selfies wouldn't have such global popularity if they weren't successful at generating publicity (or just plain likes or retweets). Remember the recent Oscar's selfie tweet by Ellen de Generes and a group of celebs that went viral so quickly, it caused Twitter to crash? It was a genius stroke of PR and one in which almost every marketing, advertising or public relations executive on the planet must have thought, "I wish that had been my idea."

Just remember though; you are not a celebrity - you are an employee or candidate.

Sectors, such as marketing, PR, media and even charities encourage their workers to take photographs to increase the chances of free publicity and awareness of events. That's great, but the same rules apply; how will your photograph be perceived by the viewer?

Did you know?

The word selfie was voted word of the year in 2013 by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Your Next Photograph

So, whether you are looking to make a career change or are wishing to stay at your current company, think very carefully before you post your next selfie. Why not take more group shots with friends, or photograph scenery to depict what is going on in your life?

Whatever you decide to do...please, please, no duck face pouts!



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      Pidro 3 years ago

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      Camila 3 years ago

      you look gorgeous! you know what has been funny today is hareing people's worries about their bodies and then looking at the photos and saying what is wrong with them? nothing! but then you realise that you have your own issues and you need to tell yourself that too!gorgeous! I do love to pull out the ' I had 5 babies' card when I need to talk to myself about being harsh on myself!!!good on you! I'm going to join in next year for sure! don't know about the nudie shot though! you're braver than me! Corrie:)