Like this comic? Check out more from Sobering Mirror.
Like this comic? Check out more from Sobering Mirror.
And you wonder why no one wants to be a CPA anymore. A PDF?? Really, […]
If you work for a larger firm, chances are you’ve already got a social media policy that encompasses everything your firm does not want you to do online. For smaller firms and private practices, a social media policy can be the very last thing management considers implementing, assuming you will use your better judgment when conducting yourself online and don’t need the rules laid out. Oftentimes this mentality comes more from management’s unfamiliarity with social media than anything else. If they don’t use Twitter, how can they tell you how to conduct yourself on it?
But your online social life isn’t the same as a cocktail party at which you are representing your firm. Should you be able to say whatever you want on Twitter after hours? Can you post pictures of yourself getting wasted on Facebook?
The line is cut and dry when you are at a firm event or at a client but are you expected to represent your firm even when tweeting on your own time? If your firm does not have a social media policy, the answer is you have no way to know until it’s too late and you’ve pissed off the boss.
For firms, not having a social media policy can open the company up to all sorts of tricky trouble. Without knowing exactly what is expected of them, employees are forced to use their own judgment when it comes to their online behavior. Most are smart enough not to bash the boss in 140 characters or post embarrassing holiday party photos on Facebook but what’s to stop them from starting a blog that management finds offensive or keep them from tweeting about their work life in general? Absolutely nothing.
With hyper-connected Gen Y more than established in the workplace, a social media policy makes even more sense. Very few us get through a day without a Facebook update or a tweet and for some of us, our online persona can be a point of contention with management. Case in point, yours truly and Jr Deputy Accountant. Working in the industry meant that I had to be careful not to needlessly bash firm failures (like PwC and Satyam), lest I ruffle any feathers that could connect my site to my employer. Sometimes a disclaimer is helpful – something along the lines of “my opinion is my own and independent of any personal or professional affiliations” – but without having clear lines drawn between how you behave at work and how you behave on your own time in front of the entire Internet, it can be difficult to know what’s appropriate and what is not.
Last week we gave you some tips to keep your online life safe in the event that you don’t have a social media policy but that doesn’t mean your boss gets a pass. A social media policy is always a good idea and in this day and age there’s no getting around it, it’s necessary.
Remember yesterday when we talked about LinkedIn? Sure you do, it just happened. Anyway, the discussion prompted one HR manager to reach out to me with related thoughts on Facebook. Keep in mind this person is directly in charge of hiring at an unnamed mid-size firm that, as far as I am aware, treats its staff pretty well (great culture, competitive salary, CPA exam support, etc). I suggest those of you looking for work pay close attention to the following.
Reading GC again this morning. I can never tell if this behavior is an indication of job engagement or apathy. Nonetheless, the inquiry about LinkedIn sparked some really pful dialogue. It caused me to think about what I perceive as much needed guidance on Facebook.
I know you field a lot of inquiries from those who aspire to be slave laborers CPAs. I think these folks are missing out on the basic do’s and don’ts of Facebook. While I loved the rule “facebook is for the people i enjoy being around and linkedin is for the people i am paid to be around” irresponsible Facebook privacy settings are abundant and makes TMI available to recruiters.
Case in point: I recently learned the name of a student who accepted our offer. I couldn’t recall exactly who he was- give me a break, I speak with hundreds of students- so I typed his name into FB. Not only could I see the profile pic I was looking for, I was able to view all of his albums. I want to rescind the offer after viewing the album of his fraternity trip to Vegas. (And yes, I know that I didn’t have to look, but we don’t have to look at car accidents and we still do.)
Second case: A candidate is coming in to the office for an interview. The staff accountant assigned to take the candidate out to lunch does a name search on Facebook. Before the candidate arrives to the office, the email system is routing pictures of said aspiring CPA in a toga. So much for a first impression that conveys professionalism.
Also, one doesn’t even have to go to Facebook to see these pictures. I have Outlook Social Connector, which integrates Facebook and Outlook. If a person emails me from an email account associated with their Facebook account, guess what: at the bottom of their email message, I can see any information that is public (e.g. their profile picture and wall).
I am sure other professionals and recruiters have similar stories. Can GC give these kids a heads up?
Lord knows we’ve tried.
Doesn’t everyone know recruiters and hiring managers check Facebook? I thought that was common knowledge but maybe not, or maybe people don’t realize that pics of them drinking in Vegas are not as cool to recruiters as they might be to their friends.
A few quick tips:
Make sure your Facebook settings are TOTALLY private and not just lazy private. The broader Facebook privacy setting will only block your wall from strangers but your friends, likes and EVERY SINGLE PICTURE are still out there for others to stalk. Since Facebook privacy settings are subject to change (and do, constantly), it’s your job to stay on top of things and make sure you’re only sharing what you want to share.
Use an email you don’t often use as your Facebook login email. This is common sense. When I was screening interviewees for my last job, I would routinely plug their email addresses in to see who would pop up and, not surprisingly, almost everyone did. Let’s just say a few of them did not get interviews. Gmail is free, there’s no reason not to have a spare for this purpose.
Reconsider your profile picture! True story, one of our CPA exam students emailed me with a sob story about how he had been unable to study for weeks and therefore failed his exam miserably and not only wanted advice on how to pass but free time to study even though he’d used up most of the time on his course. Well he forgot we were also friends on Facebook, so when he popped up in my timeline, I couldn’t help but notice the picture of him partying in Mexico with a half-spilled Corona in his hand. The picture had been uploaded the week before his exam, and was even conveniently captioned with “had a great time last week!” so I knew that he was totally full of shit. While not all cases are that extreme or closely connected, it is important to put your best foot forward on Facebook, at least if you are going to allow strangers to see your profile photo. If you can’t handle using a professional shot for your profile, change your privacy setting so no one but your friends can see it.
I’m sure there are a bunch of things I’m missing here, so if anyone has anything to add, you know what to do.