Four Ways Social Media Can Wreck Your Career

Image of a social media network.

Career advisors and news outlets can't seem to stop buzzing about the miracle of social media. From every direction, we're blasted with messages about the astonishing impact Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can have on the growth of our careers. And there's no doubt these message hold some truth. But watch out. Social media isn't a career-boosting cure-all, and when used recklessly, it can actually cause more than good. Keep an eye on these sneaky ways social media sites may be holding you back.

1. Wasted time

Launching a job search? Trying to use every resource at your disposal? Great. There's no harm in posting a Facebook update to announce your unemployed status and ask for help and leads. And there's also nothing wrong with sending a contact invitation to your former boss or mentor via LinkedIn. But if you find yourself following the twitter feeds of twenty corporations that may or may not be hiring anytime soon, checking Facebook every five minutes waiting for those leads to come in, or innocently viewing your former boss's page and then burning the next hour looking through her vacation photos of Istanbul, you have a problem.

2. A false sense of two way communication and connectivity

People aren't reading your blog as much, or as intently, as you may believe. They aren't checking your LinkedIn page as often as you may assume. The window of social media works two directions, but you only have control over the traffic in one direction. After you've skimmed through a hundred of those Istanbul vacation photos, you may feel like you went on that trip right along with your old boss and the two of you are closer than ever. Think again.

3. Potential leaks of embarrassing personal information

You may assume this one doesn't apply to you because you adjusted the privacy settings on all your college drinking photos. But what viewers find embarrassing and what you find embarrassing don't always match. Control ALL the information you share, not just naked photos and swear words. And recognize that the more you use social media and the more photos you post, the more complex this challenge becomes. Remember: There's nothing wrong with maintaining an aura of mystery.

4. Pigeonholing yourself by being too specific

If your blog sends one message and one message only, as in "I'm a level 2 certified CNC programmer with a two year degree in systems maintenance; I'm looking for a full-time operations position in north Des Moines," you may be limiting your future without realizing it. Right now, the job you describe may feel like the only thing you want in this life. But there may be other options and opportunities available to you that can pass you by if your persona, your goals, your interests, and your needs are presented in a way that's too narrowly focused.

Don't Rely on Social Media Alone: Expand Your Options

Feel free to use social media to support your job search…but be careful. And make sure your blog, LinkedIn account, and Facebook profile aren't the only tools you're using to get ahead. Expand your options and resources by reaching out to your connections in person. And stay focused on real-world skill development and the strength of your resume and application materials. LiveCareer can help. Visit the site to access a valuable set of tools, like resume builders,salary surveys, and career aptitude tests that can keep you on track and help you make genuine, steady progress up the career ladder.

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