Myths and legends abound about the dangers of social networking – we’ve all heard about people losing their job or getting kicked out of university for saying the wrong thing on Facebook, Twitter, their blog or the comments section of a newspaper website, combine that with the ever more complicated privacy settings for our online selves and you’d be forgiven for wanting to stay well away from saying anything online. But social networking opens as many doors as it closes and if you’re a bit careful you can relax as much online as you do elsewhere.
- Always think before you post – what happens on the internet stays on the internet. Forever. And in a digital world you have to assume that everyone can see everything you put out there.
- Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say to people in real life.
People often put in their Twitter profile that it is ‘not representative of X’ or all opinions are their own but that doesn’t mean you can say offensive or stupid things – it’s still you and people will still associate what you say there with other things you do.
- Don’t post pictures you wouldn’t want the entire world seeing
You can restrict your profile all you want but that doesn’t stop someone else sharing the photo elsewhere. Be careful about letting people tag you in photos without your approval
- Be careful about tone – sarcasm and jokes don’t transfer well in 140 characters. Always assume that if you can be taken out of context you will be!
- Assume that employers, lecturers, university admission boards, and (uh oh) your parents and relatives will one day see or hear about what you post online.
- Remember your college, university or employer might have social media policies that prohibit certain behaviour or statements, especially if you’re identified as being linked to them so check out what those might be.
- Social media might be everywhere and many of us have been using it for most of our lives but ‘the rules’ are still being worked out.
Is it ok for potential employers to look through your profile or your college or university to take action for something you say online? If you complain about your boss online but don’t mention who they are or where you work is that ok? For the time being it’s best to play it safe!
- Check the privacy settings you’re using and ensure that you’re not making any more information public than you intend to. Always be careful about revealing too much personal information online intentionally or not.
- If you feel you are on the receiving end of unacceptable behaviour or comments online you can get help and support. Speak to your students’ union, university or college advice centre or search for ‘cyberbullying’ as there are lots of online resource.
- All this is pretty negative but when it comes to your career social media offers ladders as well as snakes!
You can use it to ask advice from other people working in the career you want or to start debates with other people in the area.
Your potential employer could find good things on your profile too – show you have an interest by posting links on Twitter on Pin things on Pinterest that relate to the jobs you’re going for.
A strong background and understanding of social networking can be a real benefit in certain jobs, so familiarity with the different networks and the strategies for using them can be a real plus on your CV
You might be able to make contacts or find job opportunities that don’t exist elsewhere.
Don’t be scared of being yourself online, just be aware that unlike the pub what you say to your friends will also probably make it back to your parents, your boss and pretty much everyone else.