Is Your Online Activity Jeopardizing Your Job?

by Jamie Simmerman · 7 comments

You're fired

Every week, I see employees knocking their employers or customers on social media. My Facebook feed often includes a post office employee talking about the “stupid” things people ask him, several WalMart employees complaining about their bosses, customers, and working hours, and department store employees calling out customers as lazy.

Times have changed, and, for most of us, online interaction and social media are a part of everyday life. But are your online activities jeopardizing your job? If you’re not sure, chances are the answer is yes.

How Online Activity Affects Your Employment:

It can get you fired.

No matter who your employer is, certain activities can serve as grounds for firing or reprimands. Talking badly about your employer, company, or customers is bad for business. Check if your company has a clause outlining social media and your responsibility outside of the office to uphold the company’s image.

And if you think your employer can’t gain access to your online posts, think again. A good rule of thumb is to remember that everything you do has the potential to be made highly public. Deleting posts, blogs, or comments doesn’t actually delete anything. A copy of everything you post online is still stored in multiple places and can be retrieved by the right person.

It can come back to haunt you, even if you’re not talking about your company.

Using hate speech or engaging in online discussions that include harming another person or their reputation through your comments can result in a lawsuit, or it can serve as grounds for dismissal from your job.

Discuss posts in a respectful manner and refrain from getting on a soapbox. If your employer investigates your comments online and feels that you’re acting in a manner that could reflect badly on the company, you could be let go. Just don’t be hateful or intolerant, and you won’t have to worry about this.

It’s important in hiring decisions.

Now more than ever, your online activities can be the deciding factor in obtaining employment. Many companies include a basic online search and criminal background check as a normal part of the hiring process. If they don’t like what they see, they’ll choose another applicant.

It’s considered a reflection of character.

Conducting yourself well online also reflects your personal character and ability to get along with others. A common proverb says that a true reflection of a man’s character is revealed in how he treats those who cannot do anything for him. Likewise, your character can be measured by how you treat those whom you believe have no power to affect your life.

Commenting on others’ blog comments can sometimes turn into a battle of wits or opinions, and sadly, name calling is common. Treat your fellow blog commentators as those who are entitled to disagree with your views and don’t give in to the temptation to feel as if you’ve “won the fight” by calling names or disrespecting others. Your current or future employer may view this as an indication of how you treat coworkers and subordinates when your boss isn’t looking.

It could reveal that you’re not doing your work.

Your employer is likely to check up on when you use social media avenues. If you’re tweeting or updating your Facebook status on company time, it could cost you your job.

How do you measure up? Is your online conduct worthy of passing your employer’s scrutiny? What advice do you have for those looking to clean up their online footprint?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon @ MoneySmartGuides February 28, 2013 at 9:48 am

It amazes me what some people post and say. It’s natural to get frustrated and mad and say things. I do it all of the time. The difference is that I say it in my house when no one is around while many others post it on twitter or facebook. I just don’t understand why they do it publicly. Maybe it’s just so routine to post on social media that they don’t think twice?

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Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle March 1, 2013 at 4:40 am

We all had to attend meetings at work in January to remind us about what we post and how it could get us fired. Facebook was the main target. A coworker had posted comments about our employer and the bosses found out about it.

I do not know what was posted but I do know that he will be working every Friday night and Saturday for as long as he continues to work there. If there is a dirty job he will be stuck with it.

My name is a play on my real name and I do not post anything that would identify or embarrass my employer just in case they figure it out.

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Josh Zytkiewicz March 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

I think this is really a temporary issue. The people who are generally in charge at companies right now grew up in a time when none of this happened. And the people who are coming up into the workforce are so accustomed to talking about everything online that they don’t care.

Companies are already turning away otherwise outstanding workers because of online activity. The companies that continue to do this will find their pool of applicants getting smaller and smaller as the best workers are hired by competitors with more understanding policies.

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Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey March 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm

It is amazing how people use social media to air their rants and grumbles. Some of them refer to their bosses and employers. Unfortunately, they do not realize that their posts will soon be found out. They should be reminded that a lot of people have lost their jobs and career due to disrespectful and unprofessional posts.

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James March 3, 2013 at 12:44 am

You’d be surprised how many employers look at your facebook profiles before you even start your job! Its definitely a good idea to keep it locked down and remember anyone could be watching…

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Property Marbella March 3, 2013 at 3:51 am

The airline Air France-KLM in Europe found a Facebook group of 13 of its stewardesses, who wrote a bunch of negative things about their bosses and passengers that they experienced during the flights around the world. They got fired ALL 13 on the day. Never write anything about your job, co-workers or managers at any social media.

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@pfinMario March 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Exactly. Before applying for a job, search like this:

Google: Firstname Lastname
Facebook: Firstname Lastname
Twitter: Firstname Lastname
Linkedin: Firstname Lastname

If you don’t like the first five minutes on each, it’s time to start telling your friends to stop tagging you

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