You’ve heard the warnings. Don’t upload photos of yourself drinking from tequila bottles. Don’t blog about your mind-numbing job. Don’t post volatile rants — unless you’re looking to offend your boss.
For the average employee using a social-networking site, though, wild party photos and shocking language probably aren’t the issue. It’s the subtler things: the stuff you’d never want to share with your boss, but — through Facebook or MySpace — unwittingly do.
Like company picnics or after-work drinks, the trick is balancing what happens tonight with what you face in the morning.
“Exercise caution,” says Sue Murphy, an executive vice-president at the National Human Resources Association in the U.S.
Sound perilous? Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risk to your professional image:
•Keep your public pages as career-focused as possible.
Murphy suggests two separate pages, one professional and one personal. As acquaintances ask to link with you, direct them to the proper page.
•Choose your “friends” wisely, and ask that they treat your page with care.
Your posts may be pristine but that doesn’t keep friends from adding embarrassing comments or linking you to provocative content.
•Choose wisely about how much time to spend signed on. Using Facebook’s “stay logged in” feature can be convenient. But co-workers who see you perpetually signed on may assume you’re killing time searching for friends and chatting. Posts are time-stamped, so it’s easy for people to calculate your time online.