How to Avoid Tweeting Your Way to Unemployment

By Jenna Lebel We’ve all heard a story of how a single, careless tweet has jeopardized a current or potential job or career. Maybe you remember the woman who received a job offer from Cisco and tweeted about weighing her “fatty paycheck” against hating the work only to be publicly called out by a Cisco employee. Then there was the CNN editor fired for her controversial tweet about Lebanon's deceased Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. There was also former MLB pitcher-turned-radio-host Mike Bacsik’s racist tweet that ultimately led to his termination. These are just a few cautionary examples, there are many more.

Whether you’re broadcasting your outrage, complaining about work matters, taking a jab at your company or talking about your coworkers, Twitter is not the place. This probably seems obvious and as you read the examples above you probably thought, what did they expect? OR when will they learn? But the reality is that some people don’t quite grasp that unless their tweets are protected and only available to their followers, EVERYTHING they post on Twitter is 100% public. They can argue that their tweets were taken out of context or posted in a fit of rage, but these actions can no longer be chalked up as youthful indiscretions.

Working at a social media agency whose core values include transparency; my bosses are a bit more lenient and encourage me and my coworkers to be open and transparent in our tweets. We can tweet about wanting to take a vacation, but still know that Twitter is not an outlet for airing our work frustrations.

Here are some simple tips to help guide you away from imperiling your career:

Think before you tweet

This is a familiar concept as we’ve all probably been taught to think before we speak since we were children. Exercise the same professionalism and common sense you would in in-person social situations with coworkers and employers. And most importantly before you hit “post” or “send” RE-READ your tweet and always err on the side of caution.

Steer clear of venting tweets

Ranting about your rough day at work or your dreadful coworker or boss won’t accomplish anything positive except perhaps your own short-term satisfaction. Take your tangent off Twitter. Twitter is meant to be a place to create and establish relationships with people, not wreck existing ones. Don’t be careless because you’re frustrated, it’s just not worth it.

Ask for social media guidelines and policies

Another approach is to simply check with your employer to see where the boundaries are—what is allowed and what is forbidden. This way, you’ll know where you stand and have some guidelines for tweeting.

Assume EVERYONE will read your tweet

If you think your tweet will go unnoticed, perish the thought. Just because your boss doesn’t understand Twitter and refuses to join, doesn’t mean your tweets won’t get back to him/her. Similarly, just because someone doesn’t catch the tweet that day, doesn’t mean they won’t see it someday down the road. Twitter is much more public than the old water cooler. And unlike the water cooler, it leaves a trail behind.

Do you have other tips? Share them with us.

I posted this question on Quora to get some cautionary advice and opinions from others. Thanks to those who contributed to the discussion. If you’d like to share your thoughts, click here.