Friending Your Co-Workers on Social Media?

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In the days before social media, it was easier to keep work life and personal life separate. Now our online profiles are blurring the lines and making it more important than ever to be aware of the proper social media etiquette when you want to be taken seriously at your job.

There are many ways that social media can help your career. In fact, in some career fields social media can act as an online portfolio to show potential employers your skills and who you are outside of your resumé. At the end of the day, social media could help you land your dream career, but when used incorrectly, could hurt your prospects.

According to a survey done by, as of 2017, 70% of employers are screening potential candidates and they are using it to make their decisions. Employers like to gather as much information on a candidate as possible before bringing them in for an interview. The survey also reports that 57% of employers are less likely to hire a candidate that has no social media profiles. As social media continues to grow, more and more companies are going to expect their employees to have a professional online presence.

As college students, we are learning more about what to post and what not to post to get the job, but what about when you are in the position? Here are some simple rules to follow to make sure your personal profiles don’t harm your professional life.

Don’t Friend Your Boss

Your boss or supervisor is one person you should never send a friend request to. This person has the ability to advance you in your career and it is not necessary that they see you went skiing this past weekend. On the other hand, if your boss friend requests you, it is okay to accept but you might want to consider being extra careful about what you are posting and increase the restrictions on what they can see.

Don’t Friend Co-Workers Early on in Your Career

It is called a “friend request” for a reason. This means that you and this co-worker are close enough to the point where you have a close and personal relationship and are comfortable enough with each other to spend time together outside of work.

Know Your Audience

What is your workplace culture like? Are your co-workers more casual and friendly towards you, or are they strictly professional? Remember that LinkedIn is a social media website specifically for content that is career focused. Also remember that in any situation, showing alcohol, drugs or anything else potentially offensive doesn’t show up at all in your profile.

Know Your Rights

In the United States, our speech is protected by the First Amendment. However, this only protects from the Government taking action to censor speech; it will not protect an employee from losing their job. In some cases, social media posts exposing bad working conditions, discrimination or harassment in the workplace can be protected according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The bottom line is that if you are unsure about whether or not to post something, chances are you shouldn’t post it. There is also nothing wrong with keeping your profile private or not adding co-workers. A lot of companies appreciate an employee with social media, but this does not mean you have to be 100% transparent.


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