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How to Avoid Getting Fired by Facebook

How to Avoid Getting Fired by Facebook
Donald Trump

Donald Trump may have gone out and trademarked the term “You’re Fired”, but he is going to have a hard time competing with Facebook.

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Everything is public. Act as though it is going to be on the front page of the New York Times tomorrow. Facebook just announced that in a matter of a few days or weeks, it will become indexed by the colossal Google search engine. People are now also able to search for listings from the welcome page without first signing up as a member. Welcome to the front page! Beware of what you air in places like Facebook, MySpace or Twitter that have become easily searchable, fairly permanent and highly public.

People are losing their jobs over this. Take the Goldman Sachs trader Charlie Barrow for instance. He became addicted and got fired for spending too much of his time prattling. He went as far as adding a warning letter from his employer on his profile. Penn State’s Daily Collegian columnist Zach Good was fired over comments made regarding a cancer fundraiser. His editor in chief wrote in a blog post titled “I’m no Donald Trump, but…” followed by comments “Anyone has the right to free speech. No one has the right to be employed at a newspaper. That is a privilege.” Canadian grocery chain employees Devon Bourgeois and James Woodwere fired for making wisecracks admitting theft.

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Here is a list of things you should do (or not do) in online venues like Facebook:

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  1. Don’t do it during work time unless you have permission to do so. Better yet, don’t use it at work unless you think it will get you a raise. Commission sales people are less likely to get in trouble over this than someone working in the accounting department.
  2. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable posting or discussing in the lunchroom at work. Some people got busted for posting photographs of things that went on at parties.
  3. Remove comments posted by others that can get you into trouble. Edit them directly or ask whoever posted them to remove them.
  4. Raise your privacy settings. Be mindful that these settings only prevent the average user from digging out the information. Assume there is a chance that the information can still leak out.
  5. Do not ever admit to anything even remotely resembling a crime. Cops and prosecutors know how to use Facebook as well as anyone. You’ll have a hard time undoing such an admission, even if done as a joke. If your boss doesn’t really like you, Facebook might become a good place to turn to find dirt that can be used to get rid of you.
  6. Don’t disclose personal information that you are not comfortable having out there. Birthdates are a crucial piece of information used to identify people that might be better left out of your profile.
  7. Monitor your information. Google your name often, set up alerts and let people know what your expectations are for personal information. Let your close friends know where you stand so there are fewer issues. This is especially important for the photo junkies who like posting potentially embarrassing photos that may have you in one or more of them.
  8. Be considerate of others when you are posting things. If your friend just started a new job as a Whitehouse intern, don’t start posting stuff that won’t make it past the watchdogs.
  9. Don’t discuss confidential stuff online. If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution. Don’t be afraid to ask someone before going ahead and posting something.
  10. Be careful if you mix your personal and business online. People often make the mistake of carelessly mixing personal and business contacts. Be somewhat more conservative with your business than your personal contacts to minimize this source of potential problems.

If you like your job and don’t want to get trumped out of it, be careful how you use Facebook or one or the many tools like it. Use these above suggestions and your profile will become positively enhanced. Many employers, including the CIA, are turning to these tools as part of their recruiting arsenal. If you use them well, you might be hearing “You’re Hired.”

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If you have any war stories, tips or ideas to share, please post a comment (knowing it might end up on the front page).

Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa (Twitter Feed) are co-founders of Atomica Creative Group , a specialized strategic product marketing firm. Through leading edge insight and research, sound strategic planning and effective project management, Atomica helps companies achieve greater success in bringing new products to market and in improving their existing businesses. They have co-authored Overcoming Inventoritis: The Silent Killer of Innovation now available.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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