Seven social media sins that can sabotage your career

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Social media users have been warned to be careful about what they post online as ‘cybervetting’ increases.

Photography experts at ParrotPrint.com have revealed seven social media mistakes that can sabotage careers and lead to negative employment progression and termination.

A recent study found that 79% of employers reject a potential candidate based on their social media content.

Companies continue to use social media to monitor their employees and future candidates in order to uphold the reputation of their business.

All staff are entitled to a private life away from work; however, if their behaviour on social media poses a risk to the business, employers can act.

Similarly, recruiters can check candidates’ social media if they comply with discrimination and data privacy laws.

Matt Dahan from ParrotPrint.com said: “In the age of personal branding, it is more important than ever to consider the importance of digital footprints.

“A digital footprint is permanent for the most part because once a photo is made public, or even semi-public, users have very little control over how others will see it.

“Everything posted online can have an impact, and the sharing of confidential or inappropriate information and behaviour on social media has become very common and can have serious consequences.”

Here are seven mistakes the team at  ParrotPrint.com say could land people in serious trouble:

  1.    Using BeReal in the workplace

BeReal was the latest social media platform to take everyone by storm, with over 10 million active users posting an immediate picture of their surroundings when a notification rings. Employees who use BeReal at work could risk breaching data protection laws if they show a computer screen with personal data. Companies can consider this type of breach severe enough to dismiss employees on the grounds of gross dismissal.

  1.    Posting in uniform / company clothing

Many TikTok users have recently complained about being fired for wearing their company clothing in videos. While an employee cannot be immediately fired for doing this without warning, instant dismissal is permitted if there is a deliberate insult or if other people such as patients are visible in the video.

  1.    Posting inappropriate photos / referencing illegal activities

Taking pictures of drug use or excessive drinking and posting them to social media can land employees in hot water. Employers can argue that this behaviour goes against the terms of a contract or could damage the company’s image and reputation. If a client, partner, or supplier at a company reports such content, it could seriously undermine the organisation. Similarly, if a recruiter looks at a social media profile and thinks it exhibits potentially unstable behaviour, it’s unlikely that the candidate will be taken seriously.

  1.    Complaining about a job

Even after a stressful day at work, social media should not be a place to vent anger. Employees at most companies are trained to be mindful of how they present themselves in public, including their online presence. Complaining about your job on social media could affect the image of your company and your contract could be terminated.

  1.    Posting photos while ‘off sick.’

An employer can dismiss an employee reasonably if it’s discovered they are undertaking activities after calling in sick. If an employee lies or exaggerates an illness or injury to ‘pull a sickie’ and is caught posting selfies to Facebook or Instagram, an investigation can be launched  to dismiss the employee fairly.

  1.    Sharing company secrets

In 2019, a Wetherspoons chef was fired from his kitchen job after his behind-the-scenes videos making their food went viral on TikTok, which was against company policy. This rule is also enforced at the popular US chain restaurant Chick-Fil-A, which has banned sharing menu hacks on social media. If you fail to stick to strict employee rules, they can call a disciplinary and fire an employee.

  1.    Offensive Content 

It should be obvious that posting offensive content, including racism, sexism and homophobia is unacceptable. If found doing so, employees can be fairly dismissed for gross misconduct, even if a post is found to be sufficiently controversial. Six HSBC bankers from Birmingham were fired after dressing up, mocking an ISIS beheading, and then posting the evidence to Instagram. Employees should think twice about posting if there is even an ounce of doubt about whether it might be controversial or offensive to anyone.