Top 5 Social Media Mistakes

One thing to consider as you prepare to make a move to temporary digs for your first summer internship in New York: your online reputation matters. The internet has a far longer reach than the education and employment references you offer a hiring manager. In fact,  78 percent of all recruiters check search engines to find out more about potential employees (and interns!) and often weigh social media posts and comments before extending offers, and sometimes after!

Whether or not the company you’re interning for is where you want to start your career, know that employees – temporary and long-term — are dismissed over Facebook comments, Instagram photos and Twitter posts.

Take a look at the top five social media mistakes that could damage not just your chances of retaining an internship, but your future career as well.

Mistake #1: Profanity and Privacy Settings

Not long ago, woman lost an internship at NASA within 24 hours over a vulgar series of tweets. A man who stumbled across the first one was on the National Space Council and when he suggested she watch her language; she took the profanity to the next level. That’s when the woman’s online friends came to her defense using #NASA — which brought the tweets to the attention of the space agency’s HR department. The internship offer was promptly withdrawn. Enough people were offended by the profanity that it derailed her summer plans.

Does that mean you should restrict your posts to only content you would want your mother to see? Most of the experts would say only if you want to protect your internship and your career!

Mistake #2: Faking a Sick Day

A young intern who faked a family emergency on Halloween is now notorious for the photo he posted on Facebook of himself dressed as a fairy and holding a beer. His boss fired him and circulated the dismissal to the entire company, with the time-stamped photo. Getting caught online for playing hooky is now called “pulling a Facebook fairy.”


Mistake #3: Slamming Your Boss, Colleagues or the Company

Do not complain about your current or former employer. (Or their customers!) If you grumble and grouse about a job or boss, a hiring manager can interpret that as a snarky or negative attitude — and who wants or needs a daily dose of THAT in the workplace?

What seems innocuous to you may be offensive to your current or future boss-to-be, like the following Twitter fail that made history:

“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.”

The University of California student who posted that tweet never got to make the daily commute to software giant Cisco — or do the work. Can you guess how the story ended? Cisco staffers saw the tweet and the job offer was rescinded.

Mistake #4: Tasteless and Racist Comments

Any comment that could possibly offend another person or group could cost you an opportunity. There are plenty of examples of people who lost their jobs over racist remarks (actress-comedian Roseanne Barr, to name one), but clearly insensitive online comments can get you fired, too.

A New York Post employee was fired after posting a tweet comparing President Trump’s inauguration day to the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and 9/11. And all he did was list the dates.

Wherever you are on the Internet, avoid subjects like race, death or disaster. And especially avoid the “too soon” effect – joking about a sensitive incident too soon after it happens.

Mistake #5: Posting Photos with Alcohol

There are two mistakes here. One could be just holding a drink in your hand, the other could be appearing obviously intoxicated in a selfie published online. Not long ago a schoolteacher posted a photo on Facebook of her visit to a brewery — while on vacation. She had a glass of wine in one hand and beer in the other. Parents saw the post and complained, and she was suspended by the school district.

Mistake #6: Misspelled Words and Abbreviations

It might not seem like a big deal to use texting language and abbreviate words in online posts, could be risking internship and job prospects because of it. A Jobvite survey found that 66 percent of employers look negatively upon poor spelling and grammar on social media. Just because it’s more convenient to use abbreviations – resist the temptation and spell everything out!

Once You Land That Amazing Internship…

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