Bill Simmons was recently suspended by ESPN for comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Whatever you think about Simmons, Goodell, or any of the players recently suspended by the NFL, here’s the thing to remember: Doing or saying something that hurts your employer’s reputation can lead to being terminated. The same is true of another type of speech: social media. Many people have taken to Facebook or Twitter to be critical of their employer or supervisor. In many states, such action is grounds for dismissal. Be careful before you do something that can put your income at risk.
One more word about Bill Simmons. I often find him funny and sometimes insightful. He is also a good businessman. If ESPN decides to get rid of him, he will have other opportunities. We should all follow his example. Have a Plan B for your career and build a reputation that will make other employers want to hire us.
Several companies have instituted policies related to the use of social media. I’ve met people in the insurance and financial service industries who are not allowed to have Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts. In some cases, the company is afraid that employees could give advice or make statements that would open the company to litigation. In other cases, disgruntled employee has post rants about their boss or company. Employees have been fired for making disparaging comments or violating policies. Be careful about what you post on line. Don’t let a moment of anger or the need to give advice cost you a job.
A friend sent me an article from the Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM). It discussed the case of an employee who was fired for what she wrote in a personal blog. A TV reporter mocked her managers and, worst still, viewers. The article notes that this was not the first time that the employee posted negative comments about her job and pay.
Some might say that this was a personal space, the employee’s blog. That claim might work if she had written her words in a journal that no one else sees or if she used a function similar to the one on Facebook that limits who can view an online post. A blog is public. It can be viewed by anyone, including employers.
If your thoughts about your job are disparaging or harmful to the company, it can – in most cases – end your employment. Use “social” media very carefully. We’ve all heard stories of people who lost opportunities because of photos or posts on Facebook. Companies are using social media to evaluate both prospective and current employees. Practice good career management: Think before you post.
Yahoo via Women’s Day has published a list of 10 things HR departments care about. Some of the items on this list are very important, especially those related to job interviews. Another point to consider is managing your online reputation. If you have any photos or comments on Facebook or another social networking website that might turn off an employer, take them down or change your settings so only your friends can see them. Equally important, many companies are now tracking how you use the Internet at work. Don’t confuse work time and personal time.
Some of this advice might sound like common sense. However, people are not getting jobs and losing jobs every day because they lack an essential skill – common sense.