Whether you are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or any other social networks, what you post can be viewed by your HR department, recruiters and your future employer. Could what they see hurt your career?
Without being as extreme as derogatory comments about a certain customer, pics of you swinging back shots on the eve of a last-minute sick day or of you intimately intertwined with a colleague at a convention, be well advised: your photos, comments and videos could contribute to your dismissal, disciplinary actions or eliminate your application.
Protect your professional reputation by doing the “Two Fridge Test”, before posting on your social media.
Before immortalizing your words and deeds, just like your art that your parents proudly displayed on your home fridge, mentally post your publications on the two refrigerators of your life; the one at home and the one at work.
First, imagine your photos, videos, or comments on your home fridge. Imagine that your mother decides to stop by for a visit. She enters and goes straight to your fridge. She makes room and places your favourite meal: lasagna on the top shelf. Are you comfortable with what she sees as she opens the door to your fridge? She is accompanied by your seven-year-old niece and your 77-year-old grandfather. While waiting for your mom, they sit at the kitchen table. It faces the refrigerator. Are you still comfortable with what this duo is watching and reading?
Now take the post and stick it on the door of your office’s lunch room fridge. Big Boss (BB) and Big Client (BC) are having a meeting. They decide to break for coffee in the lunch room. BB and BC walk over to the fridge to add milk to their coffees. They come face-to-face with your fridge post. Do you blush? Are you afraid of the repercussions?
If you answered “No” to these two questions and are comfortable with what everyone is observing on the two fridges of your lives; personal and professional, go for it. Write your comment. Publish your photos. Download the video.
If you hesitate, even just a little bit, abstain. Don’t do it. Don’t post it on social media. Do not give the Net a front row virtual view of your life.
While you are at your computer, “Google yourself”. What does the Net say about you? As you can see, search engines do not make the distinction between your personal and your professional networks. On the Net you only have only one virtual identity. Is everything online just as flattering as what your networks know offline? Is it up-to-date? Is it in line with your values and those of your employer?
If you answered “No”, clean up your accounts. If necessary, ask your previous employers to remove your profile. Also ask for the support of your friends by telling them that you want to be informed of the photos they post of you. If necessary, also ask them to remove the pics that do not represent you well.
If you think you can outsmart those that monitor your activities by adjusting your settings to make yourself invisible on the Net, be aware. Many employers and recruiters question themselves when a candidate does not have a virtual identity. They ask themselves, “What does he want to hide …?” Of course, there are people who do not have social media accounts. If you are one of those, the Two-Fridge Test does not apply to you.
In the era of instant virtual stars where the number of clicks increases popularity know that all these “likes” can make you unlikeable to an employer and can destroy your reputation.
Before posting for the whole world to see, protect your livelihood. Take the Two-Fridge Test and regularly monitor your virtual reputation.