Ever since the dawn of Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest of the major social networking sites we’ve come to know and love, communication has become easier than ever. We no longer have to pick up a phone or write a letter; we can just log in to one of our many social media accounts and immediately connect with the world.
There are countless personal and professional benefits of using social media, from keeping in touch with family who live far away to developing a voice and expressing our thoughts and opinions, and building our professional network to increasing our visibility to potential employers, clients, and partners.
Its misuse, however, can put you in a very awkward position, and it can even cost you your job.
See Also: 8 Strange Ways to Get Fired From Walmart
1. Broadcasting Your Job Search
It’s true that you should keep your resume constantly updated and that you shouldn’t stop looking for a job – even if you’ve just started a new one. You just don’t know what might come along; the next ad you happen upon might very well be your ticket to your dream job.
But whether you’re simply checking online job boards once a month, or actively looking for a new job because you’re unhappy in your current one or because you feel it’s time to advance in your career or because you want to plunge into a new career altogether, it’s crucial that you keep your job search under wraps.
That means posting or tweeting about your job search is strictly off limits. You’re connected to your boss and coworkers in some way, whether that’s on Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn and chances are they’ll come across that post about a job interview you have with your company’s competitor. And they’ll even suspect that something fishy is going on when you’ve suddenly started following a dozen recruiters on Twitter.
Your name will undoubtedly get slapped onto the list of employees to be let go in the next round of layoffs, and if your present employers feel that you aren’t loyal to the company, then there’s nothing stop them from letting you go, effective immediately. You were obviously planning to, anyway. They’ll just give you the extra push you needed.
2. Complaining About Your Job
It’s safe to say that we’ve all complained about our jobs at least once in our professional lives. Even those who love their jobs have undoubtedly complained about a particular aspect of their work, whether that was an overwhelming workload, a micromanaging boss, or an incompetent coworker.
Everybody complains, and there’s no point trying to deny that; it’s simply part of human nature. However, there’s a time and place to vent your frustrations, and social media isn’t one of them.
While workers can take to social media to complain about their jobs without getting themselves hauled to HR, you should take extra care not to cross the, very thin, line. The National Labor Relations Board protects the rights of employees to engage in “concerted activity” and complain about workplace conditions like pay, dress code, and safety concerns, but the moment you start calling your boss a jerk, disparaging your company’s products or services, or revealing financial information on Facebook, you can kiss your job goodbye.
3. Posting Drunk Photos from Work Gatherings
You and your team have managed to sign a billion-dollar deal, and it’s naturally a cause for celebration. In fact, your manager suggested you all go out for drinks after work. You all have one drink too many and walk into the office completely hung over the next day. Unfortunately, however, your hangover is the least of your worries.
While you were all partying and drinking the night before, you decided to take a few goofy snaps and then uploaded them onto the Internet for the world to see. Like the selfie you took of your manager giving you a lap dance. And, quite naturally, your manager isn’t happy, and it could even result in a pink slip if the top brass ever find out.
You should try to avoid drinking at work gatherings or, at least, limit yourself to one drink. This isn’t college anymore, and your entire career is on the line here.
4. Making an Offensive Comment
Sadly, this happens all the time, and we could write a book about the many examples of offensive content that made its way onto the World Wide Web and inevitably resulted in pink slips for their posters.
Justine Sacco, for one, infamously tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” before boarding a flight from New York to South Africa. When she landed in South Africa 11 hours later and switched her phone back on, she discovered she had become a global hate figure and was fired from her job as the senior director of corporate communications at IAC.
Firefighters Matt Bowman Lawaun Edwards suffered the same fate when they took to Twitter and sent out misogynistic tweets which included Bowman’s “I’d never let a woman kick my ass. If she tried, I’d be like HEY! Get your b*tch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie.”
The bottom line is that making a racist, homophobic, sexist, or otherwise offensive comment on social media can damage your employer’s reputation and it will no doubt get you fired.
5. Posting Something Stupid on Behalf of Your Company
Social media has become increasingly integral to a company’s marketing efforts and many businesses now rely on social media managers to drive leads and sales, boost their online reputation, and generally engage people with their brand. It’s a job that comes with a lot of power, and to quote Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Sadly, however, that power is often misused – sometimes accidentally and other times without thinking things through.
Which was exactly the case for one American Apparel employee. The unnamed worker took to the company’s Tumblr page and posted a stylized picture of the space shuttle Challenger exploding with the hashtags #smoke and #clouds in celebration of the 4 of July. The company quickly apologized and, in their statement, said that it was an honest mistake made by the social media manager who was born after the 1986 disaster.
Remember that, if you’re sharing and posting to social media on behalf of your company, whatever you put out into the Interwebz reflects your employers, and that even the most innocent mistake could come back to bite you. In other words, try not to get fired for mistaking the Challenger explosion for fireworks.
Have you ever made any of these social media mistakes? What was the outcome and what did you learn from your experience? Tell us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with family and friends so that they don’t make the same mistakes listed here and end up losing their jobs!