Women more cautious about social media and the workplace

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When it comes to getting fired for Facebook, male workers might be at greater risk than their female counterparts.

According to a new survey, which polled more than 4,500 individuals ages 15-34 in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, women are generally more cautious than men in their attitudes about social media and the workplace. The study, conducted by Decode, a research firm that focuses on young people, found similar trends in all three countries.

For example, when asked if they agreed with the statement, “I am open to potential employers looking at my online social media activity”:

  • Forty-five percent of men in the U.S. agreed, compared to 39 percent of women
  • Thirty-four percent of men in the U.K. agreed, compared to 24 percent of women
  • Thirty-three percent of men in Canada agreed, compared to 25 percent of women

The tendency to err on the side of caution was pervasive for women throughout the survey.

  • Men in all three countries were more likely than women to agree with the statements, “I think companies should allow their employees to use social media at work,” and, “I am open to potential employers seeking me out through social media.”
  • Women were more likely than men to seek support offline for issues they may be having in the workplace.
  • Forty-three percent of women were against their employers looking at their online social media profiles, compared to 33 percent of men.

Gender disparity aside, workers of both sexes generally reported that at least part of their online social network was comprised of work colleagues. Co-workers made up an average of 25 percent of an individual’s online social network in the U.K., 20 percent in the U.S. and 19 percent in Canada.

The combining of work and personal lives does tend to make people more careful, however. Nearly two-thirds of survey participants agreed that they were cautious about the content they put on their social networks, and for good reason. Need we remind you about all of the workers who have been fired for Facebook in the past few years?

If you do mix your personal and professional circles online, here are a few general guidelines to help you avoid any trouble.

1. Use privacy settings: If your Facebook profile has pictures that date back to your college years, or if you have an obnoxious best friend who likes to share off-color inside jokes on your wall, create a limited profile that you share with any co-workers or professional contacts, which will restrict access to anything you want to keep private. Similarly, set your Facebook page to “private” so that it can’t be accessed by the public (read: your boss or a potential employer).

2. Keep one of your social media profiles strictly professional: Almost all employers conduct Internet searches on job candidates. While you may be tempted to set all of your social media profiles to private, having zero online presence can also be detrimental to your chances of landing a job. Instead, keep some of your accounts, like Twitter and Facebook, strictly personal and private, but have another — like a LinkedIn profile — that highlights your career achievements and experience and is publicly accessible.

3. Don’t talk about work online: It’s fine to have colleagues in your online social network. It’s not fine to write on their walls about how awful your mutual boss is, or to write status updates about how badly you need a raise. It’s best to take all talk about work offline.

For more on social media guidelines and the workplace, see:

Social media pitfalls

Blogger beware: A few things you should know before blogging about work

5 Comments
  1. Anyone who does NOT have their privacy settings set to the maximum is asking for trouble. I never post anything risque on any social media site, but I still would not want my employers or coworkers to see my political or religious views, or those of my friends.

  2. I didn’t realize my wife had so many co-workers on facebook, I posted a a youtube vide I found called A Love Letter by Jean Ache Kressin onto her Facebook page trying to be romantic for Val. I’ve now been told to consult her before posting anything again. Apparently the co-workers watched the video and teased her. First I’m not Romantic and now not Romantic at the right time.

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