We’re all prone to sharing and saying things we wish we never did. It’s hard to be on our toes 24/7 and consistently say the right things. And, with the advent of social media, our means of expression have only grown. We can now share our opinions and thoughts with the world anytime we wish, and that can bring about a host of new problems of we aren’t careful!
I mean, who DOESN’T complain about their boss (except me, boss, in case you’re reading this…), or co-workers who keep bringing egg salad to work, or clients who insist on calling at 11pm. But, broadcasting these things across the social web can lead to dire consequences. Especially if you value your job and your future.
Below we illuminate the dangers of sharing too much online and give you some alternatives, so you can still vent (pent up aggression isn’t good for anyone) while protecting your career.
Things You Shouldn’t Share Online
Photo credit: Wilfred Iven
Even Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks that the internet needs a delete button. But, until that wonderful piece of technology is developed, you need to take preventative action from needing to scramble for the (non-existent) delete button in the first place. When you post something on the Internet, it usually lives there forever.
Don’t put anything that you wouldn’t want a future boss, your mother, your priest, your rival, or the tax collector trying to use against you, all at the same time…yikes! Of course, this is way easier said than done, especially when we’re overly angry, but we hope the following the tips below will help you avoid any embarrassing or costly mistakes.
1. Too Much Personal Information
Some people treat their social media accounts and company blogs like their own personal journals or diaries. Usually there’s zero filter between a thought or emotional reaction and the online world. But, without giving yourself a moment to think about the consequences of what you’re posting, you run the risk of making yourself unemployable, or even deeply offending the wrong people.
Don’t share anything that’s too personal. For instance, giving away your address, phone numbers, staff email accounts, and information about those you love can actually end up being used against you. Speaking out on your beliefs that don’t align with your employer, or might have racist or sexist connotations, can lead to you being let go. And good luck finding a new job with your sullied track record.
2. Anything Related to Previous Employers
Bad mouthing your previous employers is a serious no-no. You might think that your work history is a thing of the past, but what happens when a hiring manager does a search and comes across a few old posts where you’re talking trash about your old boss?
This won’t reflect positively on your ability to get hired. Sometimes the lessons we teach our children are just as relevant to our lives. I’m sure you’ve said this at least once, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” At least in a public setting.
3. Non-Released Information About Clients of Employers
Don’t speak about private information until it’s made available to the public. Often, speaking about undisclosed matters in a work-related setting can actually go against your contract (read the fine print). Even posting seemingly innocent things about your company or clients can give away secrets that were never meant to be public.
It’s certainly not unheard of to be fired for disclosing private information about your company or current roster of clients. If you’re unsure about whether or not something should be shared, then at the very least you should run it by your boss first.
4. References to Illegal Activities
Posting about engaging or referencing illegal activities is just a bad idea all around. You might think your social media profiles are safe because of your “privacy settings”, but you have no guarantees that your posts won’t get out.
Employers have begun to crack down on employees or new hires who post about unsavory things on social media. After all, they have an image to maintain and it reflects poorly on their company if your profile is filled with photos or statuses related to you drinking, consuming drugs, torrenting things online, or numerous other activities.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Think of your social media profiles as the best representation of you and choose wisely.
5. Dissatisfaction With Your Current Work
It’s easy to think that you’re safe complaining about your current company, co-workers, or clients, just as long as you’re not “friends” with them. But, it’s easy for things to spread across the social web—all it takes is one of your friends to share it with their network, and the chances of your “complaint” getting in front of those you’re complaining about grows rapidly.
For instance, you complain about your co-worker who you aren’t “friends” with. But, another co-worker sees it and shares it with HR, because they like the person you’re complaining about. All of a sudden you’re in hot water.
The best course of action is to keep these comments to yourself, or find a safer alternative that doesn’t have to do with broadcasting them out across the internet.
How to Safely Vent Online
Photo credit: Negative Space
So, you might be wondering, is there any way I can protect my job and employment future and still post things online? Short answer, “Yes.” Long answer, “Yes. But, you’ll need to be more mindful about where and what you’re posting.”
1. Choose a Protected Network
Protected networks are safe havens for allowing you to vent in a safe setting. For instance, our app Just10 allows you to share whatever you’d like with up to 10 of your closest friends without it being broadcasted anywhere else online. Pretty awesome, right?
Plus, after 10 days, the information will be deleted forever. Nothing lives on that could be incriminating to you in the future.
However, beyond our own app we can’t vouch for the privacy procedures and security of other apps and social media networks. You have to be wary about the sanctity of your information when dealing with any publicly traded company, or a company that has to think about the needs of their shareholders.
Stick with networks you know you can trust, or have thoroughly combed through their privacy procedures.
2. Have a Process in Place
If you still want to use your current social media networks, then you need to have a process in place that’ll help to protect your privacy and employability moving forward. You’d hate to ruin your reputation from a silly 140 character tweet. The best place to start is by creating some space between the time you think of something to post and your actual posting of it.
If you’re feeling heated or angry about something, then wait for your anger to dissipate before sharing it openly. Instead, call up your closest friend and vent to them. You’ll receive the same cathartic release without the potential repercussions.
At the very least you should adjust your privacy settings, so you can be sure exactly who you’re sharing things with. Even then, you still need to be wary, as you have no control over where your information will end up once you’ve posted it online.
Just know that what you share might not actually be private. You have no control over the exact recipients of your post, unless you use a private network, of course.
Public venting is almost never a good idea. Keep your privacy safe, and your ability to be gainfully employed into the future by being more mindful about what and where you share online.