by Torski Dobson-Arnold
I have recently been fired from my job for something that wasn’t my fault. I had worked for a public relations firm for almost four years. About a month ago, my supervisor who was not connected to me or my friends on Facebook discovered a picture of me. I was having a few drinks at a bar and I guess someone caught a picture of me dancing with another female co-worker and posted it on Facebook. A week or so later, my supervisor called me into the office and explained that they would have to let me go because I had violated a company policy that said that I was “casting the organization in a bad light on a social network.” Is this fair? I didn’t even post the picture. I really liked my job and don’t feel that the picture was negative. It may have been a little raunchy, but I didn’t even post it nor did it say anything about where I worked. Is there anything I can do to fix this?
Companies are firing more people over social media postings. The amount has easily doubled since 2008. Unfortunately, the rise of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace is new territory for most companies. Because of this, policies regarding what is appropriate and what is inappropriate for a specific organization varies. Cases of employers firing employees for social media slip-ups have been consistent in the news over the past few years. There is even a Facebook group called “Fired Because of Facebook” tailored to others that have seen your same fate.
Whether you agree or disagree with your former company’s policy is irrelevant. The lesson here is to take what you can from this unfortunate experience and move on. Here are some tidbits to keep in mind as you navigate the murky waters of social media.
- Whether you’ve set your account to “private” or not, close to 45 percent of all employers search potential new hires and employee information on social networking sites. Profile status availability has had little to no effect on information that can be accessed and shared with your boss. Assume that what you post on a social media site is accessible. It usually is.
- Stay away from controversial topics like religion and politics no matter how generic your opinion might be. Leave this for face-to-face discussions with friends and colleagues.
- Post at your own risk. Be smart about what you share and use common sense.
Wishing you nothing but success in all your career endeavors,
Torski Dobson-Arnold, Your Career Confidence Coach
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org