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Career Coach

Beware: Social Media

Published October 15, 2014 11:54 AM by Renee Dahring

CAUTION! You could be one status update or tweet away from losing your job. 

Now that I have your attention, I would like to remind everyone that what you choose to share on social media can have a negative impact on your employment. We live in an age where we are more connected than ever so you need to think carefully before you hit the "post" button. One of the most seductive things about social media sites is that it feels very personal, but the reality is that it is actually very public. Even if you set your profile to be private your posts can become visible when others comment on your status or if you post a comment on a public page. You also never know when one of your 100+ closest friends might decide to share one of your "private" posts. 

I know it's very tempting after a particularly stressful day at work to turn to your favorite social media and post your frustrations. We can all relate to a difficult day or a difficult boss and it can feel very cathartic to go on a snarky rant and then watch the "like" count pile up. Your friend's well-meaning comments may feel supportive to you but I guarantee your employer won't see it that way. Text and emails can be forwarded so if you feel you need to vent it's safer to do it the old fashioned way - face to face or on the telephone. 

Never, ever share a patient story online. This is considered a privacy violation and in addition to getting you fired it may also land you in some legal trouble too. It may seem harmless enough to post something funny or touching that a patient said or did but your post is considered a breach of confidentiality. Even if you don't use the patients name it is still possible that a reader can put two and two together and guess who you might be talking about. 

Your employer also may have a thing or two to say if you are posting or responding to others posts frequently during the work day. Because posts are time stamped it's easy to tell if you were on the clock or not. The last thing you want is to give the impression that you are distracted or have too much time on your hands at work. 

I would also like to remind you to watch the tone of your social media posts. Complaining and being overly critical of others online makes you look like a negative person to both your employer and your patients. Always avoid swearing and inappropriate pictures. Steer clear of controversial topics. Be Switzerland and stay neutral. And post only cute cat videos - that should keep you safe.

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    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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