Your Online Image


We all have that one Facebook friend who starts each day with a status similar to what follows:

“Insert high level social, environmental, psychological, physical and/or economical problem with the world followed by a one-sided, somewhat biased opinion of this said issue, mixed in with some profanity and unprofessional terms that, if a future employer sees one day, could cost the author his or her job.”

Or, one of my personal favourites: Sharing a satirical news story from The Onion, not knowing it’s satirical and causing a ruckus about how crazy the story is even though the incidents reported didn’t actually happen.

As a communications professional currently working for a non-profit organization, I am all for using social media to share important information via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and whatever other outlet a user might see fit. Doing so gets the message across, it gets people interested and it’s extremely cheap (money-wise. If you suck at it, you might be sharing at the expense of your reputation).

Social media is an extremely powerful tool, that when used effectively can inform, educate and thought provoke. When unprofessionalism is added into the mix, though, a profane status update can be very offensive and embarrassingOver-sharers tend to look ignorant to the importance of effective social media usage and to the perspectives of their friends, followers and/or fans.

If you’re that Facebook friend who doesn’t have proper social media etiquette, you can be forgiven if you take the time to learn how to use the communication tool properly. Sharing on social media is relatively new enough to understand and accept that improper usage is more common than not. If you’re provoking second-hand embarrassment and losing friends, followers and/or fans to your awkward updates about issues you may not have properly researched, though, you better shape up (not because you need a man, but you’re going to need a big-person job eventually and employers do actually check your online presence, involvement and interaction).

Knowing when, how, why and what to share on social media is just as important as showering before a job interview. Would you ever go to a job interview with last night’s hair, exposed chest hairs, chipped nail polish or body odour while wearing flip flops, a shirt that’s a little too low, pants that sit a little too close to your crotch area, a unitard with a crazy pattern or a pair of fishnets? I hope the answer to that is a big “NO!” If you’re not doing any of the gross things I just listed off, then why are you giving your future employers the opportunity to say the same big “NO” to your résumé before even having an interview by allowing your social media presence to look just as awful as showing up with spinach in your teeth?

Here are some tips for keeping your social media profile looking classy and fresh, similar to what you might feel like after cleaning your ears or trying that new ultra-nourishing body wash:

  • If you have a problem with a recent news story, campaign or an authority figure’s decision, share away! We like reading your perspective. Just please, please, please, do not forget to address the other side of the issue, otherwise you look like the kid in school who wrote all assignments the night before they were due, using only sources not classified as “academic.” Wikipedia itself knows it isn’t a credible source!
  • When you tweet on Mondays how much you bleepin’ hate bleepin’ work, you might want to stop. Your manager might be two or three times your age, but there’s a good chance he or she can find out how disrespectful you’re being online and give your job to the other people just waiting to get a call back.
  • We all take selfies, let’s be honest. Just a word of advice if I may: If you’re posting photos of yourself with your boobs out, the only people who might get in touch with you for a job are people you probably wouldn’t want to work for (I hope).
  • If you’re one of those people who, like me, love watching Teen Mom 2, keep on watching! Just please, stop commenting on Jenelle Evans’ photos about how she’s such a bad mom. Your name calling and disrespect isn’t helping the situation and you just look like a big ol’ bully. Nobody likes a bully.
  • Use spell check. I love writing and editing and I also go berserk when I see someone use the wrong your/you’re in a sentence. If you don’t know how to spell a word or the proper usage of one in a sentence, Google it! I’m sure “How do I use the word ‘your?'” won’t be the weirdest thing in your search history. FYI: I make spelling and grammar mistakes every day of my life, but researching proper ways to use certain words or punctuation helps even the most brilliant of writers (I’m yet to be in this category. I said, “yet”)!

Social media should be used as both a fun and professional tool. It’s okay to make jokes, post silly photos and have a good time with your Twitter account to show your personality and to let your uniqueness shine! My only warning: Beware of overusing social media’s fun side. A little too much of anything can be bad news.

Do you have any social media horror stories worth sharing?



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