Original article can be found here.

Written by: Pamela Harding

Human resource professionals get approached with a lot of difficult questions and conversations involving the workplace. Today’s hot topic? Social media.

In previous generations, many years ago (like maybe 2001), most working professionals practiced the widely accepted rule of keeping work life and personal life completely separate. However, in the modern workplace, that rule proves to be a more difficult challenge than most would think. Smart phones, Wi-Fi, various social media platforms, and other technology are becoming the “go to” tools for communication in organizations today, blurring the lines between work and leisure.

With the growing use of social media as well as the need for colleagues to communicate effectively and quickly, employers have revamped policies to include general guidelines for acceptable behaviors online. For example, banning the use of hate speech and/or cyber-bullying in an attempt to govern both work and personal accounts.

Many people have already been fired from their jobs due to risky or offensive online posts. As modern day employees and job seekers, it is our responsibility to keep our personal life out of work and our careers out of harm’s way by self-managing our online presence. Here’s a few simple tips on how to maintain a positive and professional online presence:

1. Use your privacy settings. The majority of social media platforms give you the option of making your account private or making only certain posts available to the public. Decide what should and should not be seen by the outsiders by utilizing these options.

2. Make a separate professional account. This is particularly useful for Twitter and Instagram. Both media platforms allow you to toggle between two accounts making them easier to manage. One can be for professional use only and the other can be set to private to keep in touch with those in your personal life.

3. Be selective when adding coworkers. Since LinkedIn is a professional networking site, it’s probably okay to add coworkers as connections without much thought. However, for social networks that are more personal, you should be more selective on which coworkers you decide to befriend. It’s natural to develop friendships outside of work with colleagues, just be mindful that what you post online can always make it back to the office.

4. Think before you post. There are so many real life examples of people losing their jobs because of questionable social media images and statuses. Do a quick Google search of “social media firing” and you’ll find examples ranging from the extreme (Veterinarian shooting cat with arrow) to the ordinary (Teen ranting on twitter about summer job). Avoid this by thinking of the possible consequences before you post a message that may not be well received.

5. Regularly audit posts you are tagged in. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you cannot control what others post online. Sometimes friends will upload a party photo or make a status that may not reflect your personal opinions and tag you. Avoid guilt by association by reviewing what you are tagged in regularly.

I hope these tips are helpful! Do you have any other methods of maintaining a positive online presence?

Like many challenges facing today’s workplace, HR can, and should, lead the way for business leaders in dealing with social media. You can enhance your credibility and impact by achieving certification. If you want to know more about HR Certification Institute (HRCI), please visit www.hrci.org or contact a certification advisor at (866) 898-4724.

Kind regards,

Pamela Harding
Linked:HR Community Chair