Whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, many people are tempted to connect with as many former or current contacts as possible. While this can allow social media users to feel or appear popular, it is wise to draw a distinct line between your professional and your personal contacts. The people who tend to get in trouble most often are the ones who fail to do so, resulting in a boss seeing something that had been intended to be seen by friends.
After you have established which social media profile is deemed “professional” (typically LinkedIn) and which is “personal” (basically all other websites), here are five types of people you should not “friend” on the more personal social media sites:
- Your boss — Initially, some people feel that adding a boss to his or her list of friends will help them get to know a supervisor better or appear more personable. However, having a boss on your list of contacts on a site like Facebook or Google+ means that any status update you post regarding work could almost certainly come back to haunt you. Even comments that have nothing to do with work but reflect what your boss feels is a negative quality can affect your employer’s opinion of you.
- Anybody you supervise — Just as you would not want your own boss seeing how you really felt about a work-related issue, ill-timed status updates seen by your subordinates can undercut your authority. If you were seen complaining about work, then why would the employees you oversee not feel free to do the same?
- Your professional contacts — The people you count on to be references when interviewing for any job are ones you want to hold you in the highest regard. If one of these contacts, however, has just seen a photo of a keg stand you performed over the weekend, his or her recommendation of you might not be so glowing—assuming he or she is still comfortable recommending you at all.
- Your previous bosses —If you ended your employment on good terms, keep it that way. Again, separate the “personal” contacts from the “professional” ones. Even though you are no longer working for an employer, you could very well at some point need to rely on his or her opinion of your time working there for a future job interview. Even if you never had any issues while working for that boss, just like the professional contacts above, an embarrassing photo or comment could drastically affect his or her recollection of your tenure.
- People you do not actually know — While this seemingly goes without saying, it is not unheard of for some people to approve a friend request from somebody he or she has never met. This could be because the person making the request is a friend of another friend or family member, looks harmless or just might have timed the request right and you wanted to crack the 1,000 friend threshold. Certain disingenuous users could then post inappropriate comments on your page or tag you in misleading photos that can force you into a state of damage control.
As we said on Monday, being fired for something you said on a social networking website does not constitute a violation of employment law. You are responsible for what you post on these sites as well as who sees it. Tomorrow we will discuss some of the steps you can take to prevent private information from becoming public.
Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorneys