Protect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

As a talent recruiter, I’ve had colleagues that would search the backgrounds of prospective candidates diligently on social media. There were a variety of reasons that they’d do it, but mostly to see how the person represented themselves on different platforms. Did they drink and smoke blatantly? Use inappropriate and/or hateful language? A combo of a bunch of different things? Now that’s not to say that any of that is “wrong” but what you project on social media can and will be held against you, especially when working with children.

Then there’s the school leaders that scour their teachers’ social, or the nosy colleague that wants to know what you’re up to outside of school hours. I’ve seen educators bad mouth the people they work with and for, and all sorts of other things. Again, I’m not here to tell you that this is “bad” or “wrong” but I am here to say that it’s not smart.

In order to save yourself some potential headaches (and your job in some instances) let’s go over some social media best practices you can put to good use!

Make your social media unsearchable

  • Facebook makes it pretty simple to have an unsearchable profile, which is similar to having a private profile. If you’re still on Facebook, this is valuable to avoid being found by your students, and to maintain your online privacy.
  • With Twitter, the process is different, you can’t make yourself “unsearchable” but you can protect your tweets (more on that later). After you’ve made your account private, any tweets that you published prior to being private are still searchable via Google. However you can remove them pretty easily.
  • Instagram makes it simple to make your account private as well, and the first step is disconnecting your IG and Facebook. Follow these other steps to also protect your privacy.

Protecting your Tweets

  • Many people envision going “viral” and the instant internet clout that comes with it. But let’s be realistic, your witty Tweet probably won’t be the one that goes viral, and unless you’re looking to be an internet celebrity, is it even worth it?
  • Protecting your Tweets is a common sense way to go, especially if you share personal information about you and/or your family. It’s simple, and ensures that only people you know (and trust) have access to them.

Common sense

  • As I mentioned before, I’ve seen and heard just about every social media story you can imagine, and many of those issues were avoidable. Venting about your employer online is never a good idea, and especially not smart from an account directly linked to you.
  • “Girls’ night out,” or having a good time with your boys is natural, and we all do it. But that doesn’t mean that everything has to be all over your social media. If you don’t want your parents to see it, or your kids, do you want your employer or your students? 
  • Adding your current students on social media is never wise, unless you have made an account specifically for promoting your work/your job (more on that later). Be intentional about the boundaries that you’ve set for your mental health.

Curated public profiles

  •  Whether it’s for job seeking, or for promoting your work as an educator or entrepreneur, creating public facing profiles is a smart idea. It allows you to control what people can see/find about you and gives you some peace of mind.
  • Posting pictures of the great work your students have produced, pictures of you on your amazing vacation, all of it can be used on your public profile. 
  • Even links to research or documents that help people get a better understanding of you and the work you do. Your public profile should be a representation of who you are and what you believe in.

I’m not telling you don’t live your life, but I am saying that there are some things that are for family and friends, and there are things that are for promoting you and your brand. Knowing the difference is important, and there are clearly steps you can take to ensure that you find that life/work balance.

Mal Davis
Mal Davis
Mal is an educator, podcaster, and social justice advocate that believes in the power of people. He has spent most of his adult life working with communities of color to identify issues that cause harm, and then working with schools and nonprofits to create solutions. He spent roughly five years in talent management, working to identify and hire teachers, support staff, and school leaders in New York City, Camden, and Philadelphia. He joined the Center as a Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow, working in education policy with a specific focus on equitable hiring solutions for the School District of Philadelphia and schools across PA to increase the number of BIPOC teachers in the workforce.


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