How Facebook Can Ruin Your Career

How Facebook Can Ruin Your Career

How Facebook Can Ruin Your Career?

Since its inception back in 2004, Facebook has quickly grown into one of the most popular and successful social media platforms around. According to statistics, currently there are over 13 million Facebook users in Malaysia, putting the country among the top 20 of most active Facebook users worldwide.

But be forewarned: excessive use and slips of words/photos may land you in trouble, jeopardize your career, or even ruin it. As Facebook popularity continues to rise, so will the extent of your life exposure. Privacy problems will begin to set in and even the Facebook founder’s sister, Randi Zuckerberg, is not spared of this issue.

Lack of safeguarding will expose you to all those things you are up to. The truth is, Facebook can have an adverse effect on your career in many ways.

The worst that could happen

Some three years ago, a British woman employee, who had apparently forgotten that the boss is on the friend’s list, wrote in her Facebook wall that “I hate my job” and that her boss is a “wanker”. Her boss immediately responded to her status update that ended with “don’t bother coming in tomorrow” and “I am serious.”

This is not the first, and certainly not the last case of a worker being fired from job because of what they have written in their Facebook account. A worker in Switzerland was met with the same fate after she was found active in her Facebook account while on a medical leave. To date, more than 20 cases where workers lost their job with Facebook as the instigator have been made public.

Loss of productivity

Facebook has an unspoken way of trapping its users. What starts out as merely checking updates turns into hours of clicking, reading, picture browsing and so on. The continual need to be connected and see if anyone commented or uploaded something new results in employees spending 10-15 minutes every hour re-opening their Facebook profile.

A significant number of workers have been found simply leaving Facebook open in the background, while attending (or pretending to attend) to their work. Some even chat while completing their important report. These “few minutes” of chatting add up quickly. Even the most dedicated employee may not calculate the amount of time they waste each day or week and before they know it, a deadline was missed, the quality of work dropped, and your career is on the line.

Workplace conflicts can arise

There have also been cases where Facebook communication exchanges caused workplace conflicts. In a heightened emotional state, you are less prone to carefully crafting what you say. If you are friends with the other employees in the office, you might find that it creates problems that you would have never had before the introduction of the social network.

It is not unusual these days to see friends who have been upset with a certain incident, occurrence or happening in the office going extremely emotional on Facebook. For instance, a worker who is tasked to carry out another worker’s job (who goes for leave) might something like, “saving your ass is not my job description,” and this person (who can happen to be your Facebook friend) may be alerted to this.

Things can get personal

If people are upset by something a colleague said they might get into a heated debate wherein they casually threatened, harass, bully or blackmail a colleague in what people often forget is a public forum, visible to anyone online. People who are emotionally charged tend to act impulsively without weighing too much on the consequences of their actions. This could be an onset of a more serious trouble.

When people are upset, they do not weigh the consequences of their actions and act out of impulse. They also, when emotions are involved or feelings are hurt, often want to “vent” about a bad day to anyone who will listen. If they felt they were wrongly accused of something they may seek advice from friends or family because they want someone to side with them and their decisions.

Adverse effect on employment prospect

Does bad Facebook habits affect the employment prospect? According to Sinsee Ho, a senior recruitment practitioner, yes it does. Traditionally, employers rely on references for background check before deciding to hire workers. Today, shrewd employers go the extra length to casually look up the candidate’s presence in social media.

“Some of the status updates and photos are made available publicly, even not to their social friends, and this provides employers another ‘perspective’ for behavioral check,” added Sinsee.

“Recently, I was placing a job candidate, who happened to be a Facebook network, in a new company. This candidate looked all excited to start a new employment. In fact I talked to her to ascertain that she is making the right move.

But she might have overlooked the fact that we are socially connected; I soon discovered that she was starting a consultancy firm on your own through her Facebook status.

You can say her credibility has just vanished out of the window.”

Bad digital footprints can’t be good

“It’s perhaps inevitable for us to treat the web as part of our life now,” asserted Jason Gan, a Penang-based social media expert.

“This level of awareness is important to avoid undesirable digital footprints. You don’t go out naked, so don’t post naked photos; you don’t defame someone publicly in real life, so don’t go do funny things on people’s wall. Even the search engine might not crawl on your funny photo or status fast enough, someone might have just print screen it. Now some more we will have Graph Search soon, the world can be so searchable.”

“Also I think one should constantly search for themselves or any related on various search engines. In case digital dirts really exists, they can still be diluted, or even cleaned. There are various tactics to dilute undesirable digital footprints, mostly work on search engines. Some agencies focused on creating strong social media accounts/websites/blogs, etc., for their clients to sink any negative comments. Still, if your future employer’s HR manager persistent enough, things can still searchable.”

In sum, in spite of the growth in popularity and the fact that this social media platform reconnects you with friends in more ways than you can imagine, Facebook should be used cautiously. Don’t let your career ruined just because of something silly that you post or do in your Facebook account.


Sinsee Ho has been in the recruitment industry for more than 10 years. She is the founder of Jobsmart Malaysia, a professional recruitment consultancy.

Jason Gan is founder of Instapps, an e-commerce application for Facebook and mobile commerce, and Tribeup media, an innovation lab that experiments with technology ideas.

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