A few months ago I applied for a social media position at my workplace.  I ultimately did not get the job but while preparing for the position I became more involved in various social media platforms.  Reading what people posted publicly amazed me. Even today I am still shocked at what some people share online.

Along the same topic, I came across an article with social media usage guidelines targeted to people trying to get into a life in law enforcement. In reality, these suggestions apply to any career field. I’ll summarize them here.

SOCIAL MEDIA Do’s and Don’ts

  • 1st Amendment – Don’t criticize your boss or decisions made at work. Yes, there is a thing called free speech but close by is a thing called unemployed free speech. Using your publicly viewable Facebook page to post pictures or call out your boss by name won’t win you any points. It certainly won’t win him or her over the next time there is a disagreement and future employers will think twice about wanting to become your next boss.
  • Confidentiality – Regardless of where you work, there will probably come a time when you are told something everyone else doesn’t know. That doesn’t mean you need to post it for the world to see.  Confidentiality of customers, coworkers, and work product is a must.  Companies have Public Information Officers, Public Relations Departments and others who are updated and trained on what can and can not be released.  Let them do it. Get a promotion at work? Sure, tell the world. Learn about a customer’s finances or company product in testing…keep it to yourself.
  • Pictures –  Pictures don’t have to be pornographic to get you into trouble.  Nude or semi-nude pictures of yourself sends a message that can never be taken back. Even a picture of the back side of your jeans with the caption “Do I look fat?” is not needed. Definitely do not post any type of picture that is questionable while showing some part of your work uniform, department logo, or other identifiable reference.  Going back to the previous point, let your PIO or PR Department do that.
  • Drugs and Alcohol – Along the lines of pictures, anything illegal or controversial like drug use doesn’t need to be documented for every future employer to see. Obviously the first step is not doing illegal stuff in the first place but videos of you falling off the bar stool or doing some other intoxicated “skill” is not beneficial.  Funny?  Maybe a drunk you is funny but there are not many places that require intoxication full time.
  • Politically Correctness –  This really should be a no brainer.  Following the suggestion of not doing illegal stuff in the first place, don’t go off on a racist, sexist, homophobic or any other politically incorrect rant.  Having prejudice or sexist / racist attitudes in the first place won’t help you, let alone proudly showing them to everyone else in 140 characters or less.

If these tips seem like common sense, good. If not, please take a few extra seconds before you post that next update. It may not only affect you but “future you” and those working around you as well.