11 things you should never do on social media

You probably know that your social media presence has a big impact on your career. But sometimes people need a reminder.

I’ve seen some pretty bad things on social media lately – racist jokes, nasty fights, name calling, insults… maybe we’re just getting so used to the online world that we forget that, unlike our private worlds, the online one is open for the whole world to see. And once something is online, you can’t take it back.

If you’re looking for a job, employers are going to look at your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles, along with your LinkedIn, of course. And they are going to judge you by what they see there. Even if you’re not looking for a job, your social presence can still impact your career. And some types of posts may even cost you a current job.

You might think your privacy settings will save you, but you’re probably wrong. Do you know every single one of your friends and followers personally? And do you know all of their friends? It’s a small world. Treat it like one.

Here are 11 things you should never do on social media. This is not just because they can cost you a job, but because they’re not good things to do regardless and are rude, mean, and thoughtless. But if that isn’t reason enough, well, they might cost you a job.

11 things you should never do on social media

Get into fights. It’s one thing to disagree with people. Another to fight with them. Pick your battles and know when to back down or agree to disagree. Heated arguments and anger aren’t going to endear you to most people.

Call people names. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a politician, a celebrity, or a non-famous person. It’s childish to call people names. It makes you look immature and many people will be put off by it.

Insult someone’s physical appearance. Again, it doesn’t matter whether the person is famous or not. Commenting negatively on someone’s appearance makes you look like an elementary school bully. If you are making a political commentary or one on a social issue, stick to the issue and leave physical appearance out of it.

Insult anyone period. Don’t call people “stupid,” “idiots,” or worse – a fairly common practice that I see online. Even if the person is deserving of insult. Find a way of pointing this out without lowering yourself. Insults make you look like a jerk.

Use racial slurs. There is no situation in which this is appropriate. None. Don’t do it.

Make pejorative remarks about any group. See above. Whether the group is ethnic, religious, or defined in some other way, avoid hurling insults.

Make offensive jokes. Before making a joke, ask yourself if it might offend any group of people. If so, don’t make the joke. Even if you think the joke is a clever piece of irony, and the target of the humour is actually the sort of people who find offensive humour funny (ie. a joke that sounds racist on the surface but is actually making fun of the racists themselves). There’s a good chance it will fall flat and the irony will be missed.

Make sexual references. Don’t talk about your sex life, or anyone else’s, on your social pages. Don’t make overtly sexual jokes or sexual comments about other people. Just don’t talk about sex. I know it’s supposed to be cool these days, but a potential employer might disagree. Why take that chance?

Complain about work. Or your boss. Not only could this get you in trouble at your current job, but it also isn’t going to endear you to any potential employers when looking for your next one. If you post that you “hate your job and want to quit,” don’t be surprised if you’re handed your walking papers shortly afterward.

Post overly sexy pictures of yourself. Keep your pants on. Employers don’t want to see you in overly sexual pictures. Trust me.  And if they do, you might not want to work for them.

Post anything you’re not willing to stand by. This mainly has to do with politics, I think. Everyone is different, and some people might be willing to lose out on a job for the sake of their political views while others wouldn’t be. Before posting anything questionable, ask yourself: if it wound up costing you, would you still stand by it and would it be worth it? If so, you might as well post away. If not, don’t do it.

I always ask myself if I would be OK with my mom and/or an employer seeing my posts. Once in a while, this question has stopped me short of posting things.

Just be careful. Once it’s online, all it takes is one screenshot and it’s there forever.

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