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5 Ways Social Media Is Hurting Your Career

Topics: Career Advice

Social media can help you build a personal brand, connect with professionals in your field, and even find a job. However, the same things that make social media a useful tool for you as a professional (e.g. the convenience, exposure, and connectivity) can also be detrimental to your career, if you’re not mindful of how you use your favorite apps. Here’s what you need to know.

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(Photo Credit: magicatwork/Flickr)

In today’s social-sharing age, it’s not uncommon for individuals to post details about their personal and professional lives online. The problem starts when what you’re sharing online conflicts with your professional image. Here are some of the many ways social media is hurting, not helping, your career.

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1. You’re constantly checking your social networks during work hours.

I get that work probably isn’t the most exciting thing going on in your day, but if you find that you’re constantly checking and re-checking your social networks at work, then let’s face it: you’re probably not getting much done.

Your need to check, scroll, comment, or like posts on social media isn’t just a huge time- and productivity-suck, but it’s also damaging to your career as well. It’s for this reason that some companies enforce a no-phone policy during work hours. Bottom line, you get paid to work, not check on what everyone else is doing on the internet.

2. You become obsessed with your online identity and forget about the real world.

Wanting attention from others isn’t a crime, but when it interferes with your life and career, it’s a huge problem. Your obsession with your online identity can make you lose touch with reality because you find more value in likes, follows, and comments than you do with what’s going on in real life. Instead of focusing on working hard and being a star employee, you’ve looking for more attention online – and I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you’re not getting cut a check for your 25 likes on Instagram.

3. You start communicating in “internet slang” at work.

I’ll spare you the rant about the kids today and their meme-speak, but it’s important to know how to communicate in a professional setting, and that means leaving the acronyms and hashtags for after work.

There’s nothing more off-putting than receiving a work email from someone you hardly know that contains internet slang, unless it’s “FYI” (for your information). If you’ve become accustomed to using, for instance, an “LOL” or “WTF” here and there in your professional correspondence, then you’re running the risk of looking unprofessional to superiors (especially those from older generations).

4.  Your photos portray you as a partier and not much else.

Work hard, play hard, right? There’s nothing wrong with meeting up with co-workers or friends after work every now and again for happy hour. We all need to be social and let off some steam from a stressful day at work

However, when you start posting about your drunken happy hours, you invite your bosses into your personal life. They might not want the corporate brand associated with someone who goes out five nights a week. They might also start wondering if all those sick days were really hangover days.

Remember, employers can put two and two together, so if your sick days typically come the morning after a night of partying and there are pictures to prove it, then you better bet it’ll get back to your boss one way or another. If you’re not serious about your job or career success, then I promise you that your employer will find someone who is. It’s only a matter of time.

5. You post inappropriate and/or controversial content.

Fortunately and unfortunately, social media has given people a platform to freely voice their opinions online for all to see – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Just because you have the right to express yourself online, doesn’t necessarily mean you should, especially when what you’re posting may be offensive or inappropriate to certain individuals.

Employers want to hire people who are professional, well-rounded, skilled, and work well with others, so if your social media post are biased, closed-minded, or unpleasant, then you run the risk of being perceived as an ignorant bigot who has little to no regard for others. If you have strong beliefs or opinions, then to each his own, but you may want to consider making your social media profiles private so that you don’t offend people who are crucial to your career success.

If you absolutely cannot refrain from using social media to share your personal life online, then the least you can do for your career is to make all of your profiles private and also monitor the pictures in which your friends tag you online. This way, you lessen the chances of letting your personal life interfere with your professional one.

Tell Us What You Think

What other bad social media behavior have you seen from peers? Share your two cents with our community on Twitter, or leave your comment below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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V Girl

This was cutting, but helpful.


This isn’t new, hopefully not new to frequent social media users. This intended to be Social Media not job hunting or networking site. Do you know if you try to be-friend people you don’t know, after so many, Facebook will freeze your account? It’s sad but true that so many social media users think it’s OK to post so much personal information. As an employer, social media is a big part of our HR department, it can determine if you… Read more »

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