Sexy Social Media Photos Make You Look Incompetent

By now, you probably know that posting the wrong material on social media can have severe consequences for your career. But recent research indicates that posting revealing photos can backfire in one unexpected way: Your peers may see you as less competent.

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(Photo Credit: The Pie Shops Collection/Flickr)

The internet has done more than blur the line between private life and professional life. It has effectively erased any such division. Pictures we post for fun, intended to be seen by friends, are easily available to anyone searching for us online. And potential bosses may equate sexy photos with an incompetent employee.

A new study indicates that women who post revealing photos of themselves on social media sites are seen by their female peers as less attractive, both physically and socially. They are also seen as less competent at work or school-related tasks.

Incompetent or Boring

One of the researchers discussed the pressure on teen girls and young women to post sexy photos. Females who post these images get more attention from their male peers, but are seen as undesirables by their female peers. Those who post wholesome pictures may be seen as competent at work-related tasks, but a social bore.

Why This Is Important at Work

Young women entering or already in the workforce have more to worry about than whether their manager saw their personal pictures. In this study, 60 women aged 17 to 25, all out of high school, were asked about their impressions of a fictitious person's Facebook profile. Fifty-eight teenage girls were also asked to evaluate the profiles; the general results for both groups was the same.

In general, the holder of the "non-sexy" profile was considered prettier, a good person to be friends with, and competent. The biggest gap between the two profiles was in level of competence. Females equated revealing social media photos with lack of competence.

If you are a young woman in the workforce, your co-workers may see your social media photos. And these same female co-workers may judge you more harshly or see you as incompetent as a result.

If your co-workers see you as less competent, they are less likely to want to work with you and you are less likely to be offered opportunities to showcase your skills or advance in your company.

Even if you think that bikini shot on Facebook is private and only for your social group, think again. The photos we post of ourselves leave impressions on many other people whose opinions may have an effect upon our careers.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever experienced professional consequences for private social media use? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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