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Are Social Media Faux Pas Sabotaging Your Career Prospects

Posted on April 12, 2017 in Personal

It’s no secret that social media networking has become a primary tool for career trailblazing, and if you’re planning a career move or looking for progression, you’re probably well aware of the need to network, both in the physical and online sense.

Of course physical networking has its limitations, whereas networking through social media offers unlimited scope for making new connections and showcasing your talents. At the same time though, the accessibility of your online profile (and those of your network contacts) can be a curse as much as a blessing—more so in fact, as time goes on.


Rob’s Tips to Stay Squeaky Clean on Social Media

Rob O’Byrne has a passion for helping people succeed, whether they are business-owners or career professionals. Rob also has plenty of experience in managing an online presence. He is active on many social media platforms, both in promotion of his consulting, education, and business service companies, and as a business authority with a desire to help others.


One of the things that Rob is very aware of, is the need to represent his brands professionally in all his social media activities.


Of course, Rob has a lot of business brands to look after, but even if the only brand you currently have is yourself, the way in which you represent it on social media can make or break your chances of a successful career.

Indeed, if you have an online presence on social media and you care about career progress, you better make sure that presence is a positive one, because everyone’s looking—and your current and prospective employers may well be looking in more depth than most.


Avoid These Career-damning Social Media Mistakes

The reason for these words of warning is simple. We’re all aware of the kind of blatantly dumb things you just shouldn’t do on social media, like posting selfies while under-the-influence or sharing vitriolic views, but social media is becoming ever more potent as an instrument of character assessment.


The reality today is that you can sabotage your own career prospects in a number of far more subtle (but no less damaging) ways than posting photos of your fishing trip during a period of sick leave.


Here are a few of those less obvious social media faux pas, which you should avoid at all costs if your career is not to be handicapped by self-inflicted sabotage:


Faux Pas #1: Assuming Your Professional And “Personal” Social Media Personas Are Separate

This is a risky assumption to make. Instead, it’s better to assume that anything you post on social media will be seen by any professional person or body who wants to look for it.


If anyone wants to dig hard and deep enough, they will find your posts regardless of how tight you keep your privacy settings.


That said, just because there’s no sure way to separate your social posts and updates from those connected with your profession, it doesn’t mean you should make no attempt to do so.


Faux Pas #2: Failing To Try and Separate Professional and “Personal” Social Media Personas

How then, are you supposed to keep your social and professional social media activity separate? Well, for one thing, you should avoid posting anything on Linkedin that doesn’t relate directly to your career interests or professional expertise.


Facebook can be a bit tougher to deal with, as it has always been a highly social platform, but has really crossed the boundaries between personal and professional of late.


Given that employers often perform Facebook research on their employees and job candidates, you might want to play it as safe as possible. There are a few ways you can do this although, as mentioned, none of them is sure to keep your personal activity from professional attention.


Here are a few options which will at least require people to dig pretty deep to find what you don’t want them to see:

The Facebook Double-up: Create two accounts on Facebook: one for your professional life and one for your personal social network. Make sure your personal account is connected to a different email account than the one you use for professional correspondence.


You will need to change the personal name you use for your social account, but that shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for connecting with people who really know you.


For example, you might use your first name and your middle name instead of your family name, or change the spelling of your name a little. Use your professional account to connect only with professional contacts and perhaps a few friends/family members with whom you know your integrity will safe.


The Mega-private Approach: If you must have a single Facebook account, tighten down your privacy settings to the max and only allow career-relevant posts to be seen by everyone. All other shares, likes, and updates should be accessible only to people you specify, or those you have categorised as “close friends”, “family” or some other limited group. Remember too, to lock down the settings that control things like who can tag you in images.


A Facebook-free Life: The safest, but perhaps least palatable approach is to do without a Facebook account. The reason for this is because however well you manage your own privacy settings, you have no control over what online friends or even family are doing.


While you might post something that you believe to be only for the eyes of your social circle, those in your circle can unintentionally be the ones to sabotage your career prospects. Even friends’ comments on your career-related posts can influence the impression developed by employers.

If you’re really serious about protecting the integrity of your online presence, stick to Linkedin and perhaps some of the other more specialised platforms. For example, you might use Pinterest or Instagram if your profession is one in which you can promote your skills with graphics, photographs or other images.


Faux Pas #3: Missing the Need for Balance in Social Media Activity:

A lot of very professional people make the mistake of posting prolifically on social media, with little regard for the ramifications of what they are posting, liking, and sharing.

Many of these same people fail to think about the timing of their activity too, which—if revealed by time-stamps to take place mostly during business hours—can give employers pause to question their degree of career-commitment.

Of course nobody should feel like it’s wrong to be on Facebook or any other social media platform. We’re simply talking here about what’s best for your career path, so the degree to which you curtail your social media activity is a matter of personal choice.


Certainly, though, there should be no need to feel bad if an even balance is maintained, between purely social and wholly professional social media activity.


If you don’t want to go to the extent of creating extra Facebook accounts or foregoing Facebook altogether, then try not to create an impression of yourself as someone more into social than professional networking. Maintain a balance between the two, so prospective employers will see you as someone who thinks about work just as much as play.


Research Yourself Before You’re Researched

Whether we like it or not, our online presence is a tool that can be used by anyone who wants to research our background, culture, and social media behaviour. Employers are increasingly doing just that in order to hire the best people they can find.


In the main, the ability to raise your career profile via social media is a significant advantage, but only if you take care about managing your online presence.


Aside from steering clear of social media faux pas that can sabotage your efforts to get hired or promoted, the most important thing you can do is to protect yourself by searching your own name frequently on Google, and taking steps to remove anything from social media which might be detrimental to your career.


Best Regards,

Rob O’Byrne

Group Managing Director


Phone:+61 417 417 307


  1. Well said Rob. Hope you and the family are well?

  2. All good Don, thanks. Family increased by one this week, I am now a Grandfather! Feeling even older…

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