If you haven’t been paying attention to your online privacy, it’s time to sit tight — or it could cost you your job.
Here are some interesting facts according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management:
- 43 percent of organizations use social media or online search engines to screen job candidates
- 36 percent of organizations have disqualified a job candidate in the past year due to information found on social media or online search
- Worse, only 39 percent of organizations allow candidates to explain concerning information found about them online
Numerous people have lost their jobs due to posting what they think is innocent content on social media. For some, the mistake is posting a joke. For others, the mistake is posting a picture. Take Ashley Payne, a teacher from Georgia, for example: her mistake was posting a picture of herself holding a glass of wine and a pint of beer on a personal social media profile. It didn’t take long for her to get fired.
Numerous examples like Payne’s abound, but the real error almost all the victims make is that of not paying careful attention to their online privacy.
43 percent of organizations use social media or online search engines to screen job candidates.
If you don’t want to lose your job anytime soon, be sure to avoid the following privacy mistakes:
2. Adding coworkers and superiors on social media
Another privacy mistake is that of adding coworkers and superiors on your personal social media. When you add coworkers and superiors on social media, you should know that nothing you do is private anymore. It could be on your profile in the morning and on the CEO’s desk in the afternoon. Worse, it could get you fired.
- Don’t add coworkers and superiors as friends on social media — especially if you are the kind that freely share stuffs with your “friends” on social media.
- Create a “professional” social media profile/page for friends and use your personal profile only for close, personal contacts.
3. Connecting to a public Wi-Fi Without a VPN, or with an Insecure VPN
When eBay made news for being the victim of a hack that exposed the details of about 145 million users, everybody was surprised. Very few people knew, however, that the hack was only due to the computers of three key employees being compromised. Yes, eBay, an internet giant, was hacked because of the computers of a few of its employees.
Most employees used to working from public Wi-Fi without ensuring additional measures of security will pay for it sooner rather than later.
When working from a public Wi-Fi, take additional security measures:
- Assume that all your internet activity on a public Wi-Fi is exposed — that is unless you take extra measures to protect yourself.
- Use a VPN service to encrypt and secure your online activity.
- Avoid “free” VPNs. Nothing is really free, especially VPNs. It costs money to set up the server and to purchase bandwidth, so if you are not paying for the service your data is probably being collected and sold, or you’re being served ads, to generate money to power the VPN servers.
- Pay attention to the encryption protocol used. As a rule, you want to avoid VPNs that use the PPTP protocol as it is the least secure. VPNs that use the OpenVPN and/or L2TP/IPSec protocol are generally the most secure.
4. Ignoring Stuff You Posted Online Years Ago Because You Posted Them Before You Got Your Job
There have been several cases of people being terminated due to stuff they posted years ago, that they think has been forgotten, resurfacing online.
The internet doesn’t forget.
What you innocently posted years ago could be dug out, reshared or sent to your employers. This can put you in a very tough spot. And it could cost you your job. Part of taking care of your privacy includes doing a thorough background check on yourself and cleaning stuff that could put you in trouble.
5. Not paying attention to your social media privacy settings
Social media sites by default thrive on information going around, so the default settings ensures people can see pretty much all you do. This could pose serious issues.
- Change your privacy settings and to only reveal information you want to reveal to the people you want to reveal it to.
- Change your location settings to ensure location data isn’t shared by default.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you ever lost a job due to a privacy issue? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.