A reputation management expert revealed what not to post on social media to protect your career prospects, and what to post instead.
Roz Sheldon, chief executive of British reputation management firm Igniyte, reveals companies don’t want to hire anyone they think could be problematic online – based on previous posts and comments on social media.
You only have to look at the recent high-profile cases of Kanye West being dropped by Adidas over his anti-Semitic tweet, and the perceived online misogyny of influencer Andrew Tate, which got him booted from YouTube.
She said: “Companies are nuanced by real people making human judgments. Organizations try to project an ideal of public image and to maintain a culture that defines how the people who work for them should behave.
Roz revealed that companies don’t want to hire anyone they think might be problematic online, based on previous social media posts and comments (stock image).
“This is important because consumers form opinions about companies by what they see online – and that extends to how their employees behave online.
Research by Igniyte, which helps businesses tackle negative online reputation issues, found that 71% of UK businesses said social media posts are the most damaging content affecting their online image.
Reputation management expert Roz Sheldon (pictured) revealed what not to post on social media, why it could hurt your chances of getting a job, and what to post instead
While 12% said they had online reputation problems due to the behavior of their employees. Businesses don’t want to be portrayed online or portrayed negatively by their employees.
More and more employers and recruitment agencies act on what they can see and find out about you online before offering you a job.
There are definitely some social media posts that you should be wary of (or avoid) considering their potential impact on your career.
You also need to think about how certain social media activities might affect other people’s perception of you or even damage your online reputation.
There are also types of posts that can get you fired or reprimanded…
1. Post about drunken escapades or risqué content
While companies don’t want to admit it, more and more of them are looking for you online – LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (especially Twitter) – before deciding to hire you.
They’re looking for lewd remarks, unwise antics, or maybe signs that you might be a little troublemaker.
Daring content like having OnlyFans and promoting it on social media can also get you in hot water. Recently, a teacher was fired for her OnlyFans account and social posts.
Another thing to watch out for is if you’re on sick leave (and maybe not that sick after all), take a break before posting pictures while having fun on the days you’re supposed to be sick have or drink.
This could impact ongoing HR investigations or lack of management processes that you may be involved with.
2. Badging your company (or your boss).
That’s the obvious, but not everyone realizes it. Be sure to avoid any mention online that you dislike your company, your manager, or your co-workers.
And don’t share anything that might reflect badly on your employer (or in a light they wouldn’t like to see). Keep the behind-the-scenes moans or sharing of information offline only.
A good example of what not to do (although it did seem like some sort of noble whistleblowing) was the Greggs employee in January, who uploaded some behind-the-scenes negative TikTok content about the London Greggs store, in which she worked loads of food.
Maybe it was well intentioned, but either way, companies don’t like it when you share controversial things about them and potentially damage their brand.
Make sure you don’t get into hot trouble filming or photographing anything within your workplace. Unless you’re actually trying to whistleblow like the Greggs worker and you’ve already preempted firing.
3. Share your opinion on celebrities or “hot opinions” on burning issues
The other prudent matter of course (career-wise at least) is – don’t post anything that could be perceived as racially motivated, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic posts and comments.
While you are entitled to have your own views, companies can find your online “hot takes” about a particular segment of the population, or your scathing public views about a celebrity, with a not-so-subtle undertone and choose to avoid you like the plague.
Most companies don’t want to be associated with these things. It’s often better to discuss these things offline than online.
It’s worth thinking about – will it be worth my living to post this for whatever reason?
4. Taking action against people who annoy you
It might be tempting to quickly reply to a comment online that bothers you – but it could mean that you’re perceived as abusive or even seen as a cyberbully online. You can slip in there, even if you think you’re harmless.
Maybe you get into football Twitter arguments with other fans and take it a little too far, maybe you like to leave harsh comments about a celebrity’s appearance on the internet, or maybe you post unnecessarily negative posts about someone.
Even if you think you’re light-hearted, companies can tell you’re abusive online if you’re seen going over the top (making personal remarks in the heat of the moment).
It might be tempting to quickly reply to a comment online that bothers you – but it could mean that you’re perceived as abusive or even seen as a cyberbully online. You can slip in even if you think you’re harmless (stock image)
5. Oversharing on LinkedIn
One thing companies are now looking at when recruiting is the types of posts and attitudes people are showing on LinkedIn.
It’s all the rage to share too much on the networking site. Be it your personal political views, excessive sharing of your mental health issues, lengthy stories about dramatically retiring from a role, your last selfless act at the local Starbucks, or an argument about leadership styles.
It’s okay to have an online personality — but other companies, potential future employers, or future clients might be looking for you and your over-the-top posts and making judgments. It can go against you if you become one of the people who share too much on LinkedIn.
Always keep posts and comments on LinkedIn professional, friendly, and results-oriented. As bold as you want to be, try to stay away from posts and comments that are controversial, political, overly philosophical, or overly personal.
Your attempts to be a thought leader could have the adverse effect of making people think you have a little too much to say for their liking.
You might even post something (especially if it’s political) that offended or falsely attacked someone because you wanted to “make a point” — either when you posted it or when they were looking for you.
Don’t turn into the “crying CEO” of a marketing agency who made headlines after uploading a video of himself fuming about just firing two employees.
People on LinkedIn felt that he sought self-centered attention and took no action to support his employees. One publication called him “a tone-deaf narcissist.”
It didn’t go over well — he got the completely wrong kind of attention on LinkedIn (for a quick try at being a thought leader), which could impact his future career moves.
Think before you post on LinkedIn. You should be respected for credibility and helpful posts on LinkedIn instead of indulging in the hot takes, debates, and egocentric posts.
Also, be careful not to “shy away” on LinkedIn—again, future employers and potential clients may choose to avoid you—check out whiny, ambitious posts on LinkedIn that celebrate even the most mundane of accomplishments.
Roz Sheldon is the Managing Director of Igniyte, a specialist agency helping businesses improve their online reputation and negative perception issues, igniyte.com