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6 social media mistakes that will kill your career

Sharon Florentine | April 16, 2014
Just because you're not posting drunken selfies doesn't mean you've got this social networking thing down. There are a number of more subtle social media mistakes that could hurt your career. Here are six to avoid.

You might not recognize the name Kelly Blazek, but her story is one that's probably familiar.

Blazek, the founder of the Cleveland Job Bank for marketing communications professionals, sent a scathing reply to recent graduate and job-seeker Diana Mekota, who contacted Blazek via LinkedIn to ask for advice on searching for a job and to connect via the professional networking site.

Blazek's reply quickly went viral, and she's become a prime example of what not to do on social media; the story is a cautionary tale about the ubiquitous nature of social media and the power of a viral story. But don't assume you're safe because you're not spewing vitriol or posting drunken selfies — there are other, more subtle social media mistakes you might be making that could just as easily kill your career.

Mistake 1: Not Keeping Professional and Personal Separate

The lines between personal and professional get more and more blurred, and nowhere is this more apparent than on social media, says Chris Duchesne, vice president of Workplace Solutions at Care.com. It's critical to keep all public interaction professional, regardless of which social media site you're on, he says.

"It's a good rule of thumb to never post anything you wouldn't want a boss or prospective employer to see," Duchesne says, and always assume that, no matter how strict your privacy settings are, that your post will be seen.

"People do extensive research on these sites before they hire you," Duchesne says. "Because of the technology, the personal and professional spheres are more integrated than ever, and it's safest to assume that your social media persona is not separate from your professional persona," he says.

Jean Dobey, CEO of social networking site Hibe.com, founded his company specifically to address the separation (or lack thereof) between the personal and professional on social media. Hibe.com allows users to create "micro social networks" that include connections only between contacts and friends from specific areas of your life, he says.

"As a medium, we looked at social networking and realized we have different 'faces' to interact with different people in different aspects of life," Dobey says. "People should have privacy and the ability to separate those spheres from each other, and while you can do this within existing social platforms, ours takes it to a different level," he says.

Mistake 2: Not Considering Your Audience or Context

One of the problems Dobey says Hibe.com attempts to solve is that of context. Many times, even if a user isn't posting offensive or inappropriate content themselves, other users - their friends, family and other connections - can inadvertently undermine their professional reputation online, he says.

 

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