Behaving appropriately on social media

More than half of Australians are social media users and the majority of these users are smart phone owners. If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re probably one of them. However the power of both, used wrongly, can be a recipe for disaster. As our smart phones are within reaching distance the majority of time (yep, even when you’re drinking) and the allure of social media is only a few touches and swipes away … you know where we’re going with this.


Happy business man tablet and coffee

Why it’s important

Back in the good ol’ days, a well-presented resume and interview were enough to land you the job. However, with a quick Google search, both clients and employers are able to easily scan each candidate’s social media channels in order to get a flavour of who they really are and their conduct on a social level.

Yep, that inappropriate status or photo you posted three years ago may cost you your dream job … or your current one.

Some statistics …

Social media monitoring service Reppler  surveyed more than 300 hiring professionals to determine when and how job recruiters are screening job candidates on different social networks.

The study found that more than 90% of recruiters and hiring managers have visited a potential candidate’s profile on a social network as part of the screening process. And a whopping 69% of recruiters have rejected a candidate based on content found on his or her social networking profiles.

They rejected the candidates for the following reasons:

  • Inappropriate photos 11%
  • Inappropriate comments 11%
  • Excessive drinking 9%
  • Drug use 10%
  • Negative comments about a previous employer 11%
  • Displayed poor communication skills 11%
  • Made discriminatory comments 10%
  • Lied about their qualifications 13%
  • Shared confidential information about an employer 7%


  • Posts depicting drug and alcohol abuse
  • Racist, sexist and intolerant views
  • Evidence of illegal activity
  • Inappropriate photos
  • Offensive language
  • Sexual jokes
  • Inappropriate links
  • Silly email address
  • Membership of offensive groups
  • Poor grammar

Famous examples

  • Former Major League Baseball pitcher Mike Bacsik lost his gig as a radio producer after getting drunk and tweeting some racially-loaded comments during a Mavericks-Spurs game.
  • Tania Dickinson identified her job at the New Zealand Social Development Ministry on her profile as a ‘very expensive paperweight.’ She bragged that she was ‘highly competent in the art of time wastage, blame-shifting and stationery theft.’


  • Develop positive attitude – Post and share messages that positive and productive
  • Add achievements – talk about accomplishments without being boastful
  • Mention reading habits and leadership traits
  • Add social causes – links and images about activities, which adds values and leaves a positive impression while portraying social responsibility

In some cases you may want to maintain two accounts: personal and professional. Your professional profile should contain family, attending meetings, conferences, events, and corporate travel.

On a positive note

You know the Reppler research we referenced before? Almost equal proportion of recruiters (68%), though, have hired a candidate based on his or her presence on those networks!

Tips to make yourself less visible on social networks

Let’s be honest; it’s probably best not to do any of the things we mentioned in the ‘Don’ts’ section. However, you can also take these preventative measures to minimise your digital trail:

  • Remove yourself from Facebook search (visibility = only friends)
  • Remove yourself from Google search (untick public search listing)
  • Tagged photo settings (only you and selected friends)
  • Protect your albums (visibility = just friends)
  • Remove application settings
  • Make contact information private
  • Avoid embarrassing wall posts / tags (you can require these to be approved by you)
  • Keep your friendships private

A final word

Rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t want your mum or a prospective employer to see it, it’s probably not appropriate!

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