But you seem like the sort of smart, savvy job hunter who already knew that. Your Facebook is undoubtedly private, your Twitter account free of offensive slurs. You’d never dream of desecrating your company product or making a mock ISIS execution video.
But neither did the seven people below. Every last one of them lost a job because of a normal, common, understandable behavior – a behavior that you’ve probably done yourself. Consider yourself warned.
1. Asking for Advice
Imagine this. You’ve landed two awesome job offers, which you’re now trying to choose between. Both have pros and cons, and you’re worried about making the wrong decision. So what do you do? Turn to someone else for advice, right?
That’s exactly what this engineer did, except they asked Quora (a popular question-and-answer forum). The job hunter was generally very positive and respectful about both companies, though they did voice concern that one option, Zenefits, “wasn’t a buzzword” like the other company, Uber. Cue a manager of Zenefits finding the post, throwing a hissy fit about the questioner’s inability to “get” the company, and rescinding the offer.
2. Using Your Phone at Work
The thing about smartphones is they’re portable and full of information and oh-so distracting. How many of us having had a cheeky peek at our messages when we should have been working?
Unfortunately, using her phone at work cost Kim Lehmkuhl her job as a city hall clerk. After being caught tweeting during a meeting when she was supposed to be taking minutes, she was accused of slacking off and pushed into quitting.
3. Mixing Up Accounts
Poor Scott Bartosiewicz thought he was posting an irate but relatively inoffensive tweet from his private account. After all he was out of the office, stuck in the car with his mind far from his marketing day-job. Unfortunately, a mix-up meant that the tweet went from his employer Chrysler’s account instead.
Okay, a car manufacturing tweeting that “no one [in Detroit] knows how to f*cking drive” isn’t great PR. But anyone who has ever accidentally sent an email to the wrong recipient (i.e. all of us) can surely sympathize.
4. Drinking Alcohol Legally and Responsibly
Ashley Payne is a teacher. She’s also over 21, and occasionally likes to enjoy an alcoholic drink. She has a private Facebook account, and one ill-fated day she posted a photograph of herself, on holiday, holding a drink in her hand. Ashley does not appear drunk in the photograph. There’s no suggestion she’s ever drank or acted inappropriately at work or around the children.
But the mere association of her with alcohol was unacceptable to her employer, who promptly fired her. Harsh? Ashley thought so. She sued them.
5. Being Too Enthusiastic
If you thought loving your job was a good thing, think again. Nicole Crowther was a budding actress who was thrilled to land a role as an extra on Glee. Everything was going swimmingly, until Nicole posted a tweet containing a plot spoiler.
Nicole claims it was simply a lucky guess, but co-creator Brad Falchuk still felt the need to send her a rather hateful public message hoping she was “qualified to do something besides work in entertainment.” Ouch.
6. Forgetting About an Old Post
Sure, you’re too clued-up these days to put anything incriminating on social media, but can you say the same of anything you’ve ever posted?
The internet forgets nothing, as PA announcer Job Schuetz discovered to his peril. A year before accepting a job with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Schuetz wrote a Facebook post criticizing a firing decision by… the chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Despite the relatively mild-mannered wording, it was enough to get Schuetz fired, after less than 24 hours in the job.
7. Moaning About Work
Step forward anyone who has never once called their job boring. Anyone? Didn’t think so.
Those in glass houses should spare a thought for 16-year-old Kimberley Swann, who made a Facebook comment to the same effect and was promptly fired. She never named her employer, but a colleague she’d accepted as a friend on the platform snitched her up. Charming.
So there you have it: just about anything social-media related can be grounds for a pink slip. But before you tear out your router and go hide under a rock, remember that for every horror story there are thousands of people finding new, better and more fulfilling employment because of social media recruitment techniques, clever online marketing and the internet’s potential to connect anyone cheaply and easily to the world.
When it comes to social media: be smart, be sensible, but never stop being social.