How social media can hurt your career

Read this article on CNN.

Editor's note: CNN.com has a business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.

As social media becomes the latest branding strategy, networking technique, job seeking tool and recruitment vehicle, it's also becoming the latest way for people to get job offers rescinded, reprimanded at work and even fired.

Everyone has "my-job-sucks" moments, but it's probably best for your career not to have them online.

It's happened so many times -- publicized and not -- that one would think we could learn from others' mistakes. (But, if that were the case, I wouldn't have anything to write about, now would I?)

A recent Tweet by a potential Cisco employee, for example, turned ugly when he decided to tout a recent job offer:

"Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work."

Unfortunately for "theconnor" (the handle for the would-be employee), Tim Levad, a "channel partner advocate" for Cisco, saw the tweet and responded with this:

"Who is the hiring manger, I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web."

Terrible tweets

Everyone has their "My-job-sucks," "I-hate-my-co-workers," or "Give-me-more-money" moments. But, they seem to forget that as employers increase their online presence using social networking sites as recruitment and branding strategies, it might be best for their career not to have these moments on the Internet.

Paul Wilson, a freelance/corporate Web marketer and blogger, found several of such moments on Twitter, a social networking and micro-blogging site, and posted these "Top 10 Tweets to Get You Fired" [sic'd]:

1. "hate my job!! i want to tell my bosses how dumb they are and how meaningless this job is, then quit, and be happy!"
2. "So my job was to test all the food at the new resturant, can I just say, ughew. I'm going to taco bell then twistee treat."
3. "Workin... This job sucks worse then the economy!"
4. "I'm going to work! Walmart! Must find better job! I hate it when chicks there have a deeper voice than me and refer to me as foo!"
5. "Also I'm really bummed that I'm working today, i asked off so i could study but my boss is a ******* **** ***** ***** who can't read."
6. "Coworker smuggled out a chair for me. Currently being paid to SIT around and listen to John Barrowman on my iPod. I don't hate my job today!"
7. "having sex dreams of people you work with makes for an awkward day."
8. "smoking weed at work is so [EDITED] great :)"
9. "It's bad when you overhear the n00b programmer say "I used to work at McDonalds with him" and you wonder if he is talking about the CEO..."
10. "Huh, with my boss on twitter, maaaybe I should take down that sexy picture of her... but her reaction will be priceless!"

Facebook fired

Twitter is not the only culprit in career self-destruction. Facebook, a popular social networking site, has housed its fair share of user firings:

Kimberly Swann, a former employee for Ivell Marketing and Logistics of Clacton, U.K., thought her job was boring -- and she said so on her Facebook page, according to an article in The Daily Telegraph. Swann was called into her manager's office and handed a letter that cited her Facebook comments as the reason for dismissal:

"Following your comments made on Facebook about your job and the company we feel it is better that, as you are not happy and do not enjoy your work we end your employment with Ivell Marketing & Logistics with immediate effect."

An MSNBC article remembers Kevin Colvin, the legendary young intern who e-mailed his boss, claiming a "family emergency" would keep him out of the office around Halloween. His co-workers (and Facebook friends), however, saw a photo of Colvin dressed as a fairy at a Halloween party time-stamped on the same day of the "emergency." Colvin's boss responded to him with an e-mail CC'd to the entire company, firing him and including the incriminating fairy picture.

In March 2009, the same MSNBC article cites Dan Leone, a Philadelphia Eagles stadium employee, who was fired after slamming the football organization for trading a player in this status update:

"Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver. . .Dam Eagles R Retarted!![Sic]"

Two days later, the head of event operations said they needed to talk about his Facebook status; instead, he got the boot.

Social networking don'ts

If you want to use your profile to get hired or -- or at least not get fired -- here are three basic rules to keep in mind:

1. Don't announce interviews, raises or new jobs
As exemplified by "theconnor," how you talk about any of these sensitive topics on your social networking site is key. If you're unemployed, writing "Interview today -- wish me luck!" would be OK, or if you got a job, something along the lines of "So excited about my new job!" is totally acceptable. If you're currently employed, however, I don't think your boss would be too happy to see something like, "Trying to con my boss into giving me a $5K raise. SUCKA!"
2. Don't badmouth your current or previous employer
Just like in an interview, keep your rants about your boss or company to yourself. If hiring managers see that you're willing to trash a colleague online they assume you'll do it to them, too. Plus, there's always the possibility of getting fired if someone sees your negative comments.
3. Don't mention your job search if you're still employed
If your boss knows you're on the lookout for a new job, feel free to advertise it in your status. If you're keeping your search below the radar, however, don't publish anything, anywhere. Even if you aren't connected to your boss online, somebody can get the information back to him or her.


Bosses check Facebook

It may be time to do a little weeding on your Facebook page -- especially if you're in job search mode.

Here is the link to the article below, from the Straits Times.

NEARLY half of US employers research the online profiles of job candidates on social networks such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn, according to a new survey.

Forty-five per cent of the employers surveyed for CareerBuilder.com, the largest US online job site, said they use social networking sites to check on job candidates, up from just 22 per cent in a survey conducted last year. Another 11 per cent said they plan to start using social networking sites for screening.

'As social networking grows increasingly pervasive, more employers are utilising these sites to screen potential employees,' CareerBuilder said in a statement.

It said job seekers should 'be mindful of the information they post online'. CareerBuilder said that of those who conduct online searches as background checks on job candidates, 29 per cent use Facebook, 26 per cent use LinkedIn and 21 per cent use MySpace.

Eleven per cent search blogs while seven per cent follow candidates on micro-blogging service Twitter. Thirty-five per cent of those surveyed said they have found content on a social network that caused them not to hire a candidate, CareerBuilder said.

Examples included 'provocative or inappropriate photographs or information' or content about drinking or using drugs. Other reasons cited were badmouthing a previous employer, co-workers or clients, poor communication skills, making discriminatory comments, lying about qualifications or sharing confidential information from a previous employer.

Information found on social networking profiles was not always a negative factor in finding a job. Eighteen per cent of employers said they have found content on social networking sites that caused them to hire the candidate, CareerBuilder said.

Some profiles 'provided a good feel for the candidate's personality' or supported their professional qualifications while others demonstrated creativity or solid communication skills.

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, recommended that candidates 'clean up digital dirt' before beginning a job search by removing photos, content and links which could hurt their chances.

The survey of 2,667 hiring managers and human resource professionals was conducted by Harris Interactive between May 22 and June 10. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 1.9 per centage points. -- AFP


Hourly vs Salary

A trend we’re noticing in our office indicates a seismic shift may be occurring in the manner in which consults are compensated. This is worth taking note.

Whereas the FTE (employee) on the project team is invariably a salaried employee – and therefore expected to work as many hours as necessary to complete the project at hand with no pay for hours considered ‘overtime’ – consultants have always billed on an hourly basis and have usually been paid for every hour they work.

Increasingly we have noticed client corporations requesting that consultants work on a ‘set fee’ basis, or on a salary. This could prove a big hit to the bottom line for many consultants, especially those who have historically worked lots of over-40 hours on implementations or production support.

Be aware, if you are unwilling to work under these constraints you may be limiting the clients you can work for. Keep this in mind when speaking with recruiters.


Networking Super Powers: Activate!

I’ve been attending a series of webinars on the effective use of Social Media Networking .

While my initial interpretation is that a full frontal attack with a layered media tactic is time-consuming and probably best suited for a service-oriented business or sole proprietor, ongoing contemplation leads me to think that individual consultants can also make it work in marketing themselves for their assignments.

Ultimately the goal of any consultant is to find their way to the next assignment, The Emerald City, and as I’ve recently noted, in today’s market your network is the Yellow Brick Road.

As good real estate agents know, even your friends and former clients need to be constantly reminded that you are a hungry agent who would kill to help them in a wide array of real estate transactions. Which is why they send you emails, calendars, football schedules, and all kinds of things with magnetic backing that can be displayed on your refrigerator until next Spring Cleaning season.

The same is true of hiring managers… Except in this case, you are the one who should be reminding everyone you know that you are a fabulous consultant and you are available.

So here is how you can institute a multi-pronged Social Media attack. I know that you’ve Linked, Friend-ed and Follow-ed everyone from your career past. Edit your online profiles so that they each point to all the others --use the special ‘web site’ links where available. And, reference your URLs in the text of your profiles. You have now tapped into the Super Power of Social Media Networking -- Triangulation.

Networking Super Powers: Activate!

Update the “What are you doing now?” boxes. On LinkedIn, update this once per day – Facebook, 5X; and Twitter, 10X. And if you have a blog, update it at least three times a week

Now, your Links, Friends, Followers and Readers – and anyone who links to you from somewhere else – knows you’re available for your next assignment.

Additionally, this is where the Networking Super Powers comes into play, search engines love the smell of fresh content. So, in a web search, the pages about you that are most recent and most flattering will miraculously float to the top.

And rising to the top of the Google, can be a big help in landing your next assignment.


Larissa's Story

Over the next few weeks I'll be hosting guest authors in this space -- professionals from the technology section who are job hunting, professionals who have recently landed new opportunities, and job search experts.

"I need a job!! I’m saying it, my neighbor says it and so does the guy in line in front of me at the grocery store! We are all trying to follow the proper steps to find that all elusive gig that will provide for us financially and, with a bit of luck, make us blissfully happy too! Okay, so scratch the bliss part and just find me a regular paycheck!

In this economy, the job search is not such an easy task. It requires focus, diligence and maybe just a tiny bit of self-study. What do you want to be when you grow up? I ask this of myself each day I troll through the online job postings. Each day I could get a new response too!

Scary, right? It IS scary. If you’re the breadwinner, then you’re probably feeling an enormous amount of pressure. Find that job, get out there and work so you can feed & clothe you’re family. Talk about pressure!

Take a deep breathe, don’t panic. Now that summer is winding down, kids are heading back to school…what is there to do? Don’t spend the entire day scrolling through posting after posting trying to make that intangible job appear. You have skills, you’re an expert in your field; now could be the time to volunteer! Organizations love free labor and remember you’re an expert! You never know what volunteering can do for you and how it can connect you to someone looking for your experience.

If it’s not to be found through volunteering, consider writing that novel you promised you would do ‘some day’. Freelance yourself! If you spent anytime traveling, consider reaching out to travel and leisure magazines and offering your tourism knowledge.

Do not define yourself by what you’ve done over the last five, ten or twenty years. You have other capabilities and now is the perfect time to tap into that unused portion of yourself. Bring YOU back to life by getting creative.

One thing can certainly lead to another; quite possibly opening up a whole new world of opportunity you never considered as a viable, paying job for yourself!"

Larissa is currently working on taking her own advice, while she stalks the elusive, bliss-inducing new job.


…it’s Who you Know

As cliché as it may sound, I become more convinced each day that – in order to land a job in this industry, in this market, in this economy – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

In the past 5 business days I have learned of two separate women who were out of the corporate world for 3+ years – raising children, selling Real Estate, etc. – who were able to quickly land assignments (one as a Project Manager, one as a Business Analyst) by connecting with former managers and co-workers who knew of their previous successes.

In my own job I have noted multiple instances over the summer where highly sought after, well paying opportunities went to consultants who were directly sourced by the hiring managers – who had worked with these consultants on previous assignments.

From my perspective as a recruiter who slogs daily to place just one of the throngs of consultants applying for these opportunities, it is very important that this point be acknowledged. In the US today, people are doing what they can to help their friends.

So, reach out to your old managers and co-workers. Beef up your LinkedIn connections. Join groups. Friend people on Facebook. Tap into your work connections, your college connections, your church connections, your gym connections, your kid's school connections, your bowling league connections, whatever!

Get the word out that you’re looking for a job. Put out a new posting about your job search every day. And don’t be afraid to ask people for help. From my perspective, they're giving it.