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What Happens When Online Actions Result in Real-World Consequences?
By: Aprel Phelps Downey
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You are heading into an interview for your ultimate dream job. It starts with a confident smile and firm handshake. You answer each question "on point," making sure to include the research you did on the company beforehand. As the interview comes to a close, you walk out the door certain you nailed it. As the door closes behind you that interviewer goes online to find out more about you.

You are now out of luck and time in terms of hiding any online behavior you would rather not see the light of day. There is nothing you can do now and there is no reasonable explanation you can give for what that person may find in your online social media profiles.

During the interview you discussed at length how you are a team player that builds coworkers up and does what it takes to get the job done. A Google search of your name reveals message board posts of you making fun of coworkers or talking about how stupid it is that you have to participate on a team project. That one piece of online information has completely unraveled the professional image you tried so hard to create during the interview. Your chances of landing that dream job have all but disappeared now!

Online actions carry real-life consequences for the gainfully employed as well. Human resources scans your online presence to find a Facebook profile with pictures of keg parties so fun that you were "too sick" to work the next day. As if that wasn’t enough, Instagram has pictures of lunch hours spent at the local bar instead of making copies for that client meeting as you claimed.

You are having a bad day at the office. That is understandable and something everyone deals with at one time or another. Instead of dealing with it and moving on, you decide to turn to Twitter, where you rant about coworkers, clients, or even your boss in 140 characters or less. It doesn’t matter if those tweets are sent on company time or couch time from your own living room. Your Twitter vent spree could get you fired.

A quick check of your Instagram account by human resources reveals a series of pictorial inappropriate jokes. What you view as a great sense of humor your boss views as a perpetual workplace distraction. The thought is that you will feel the need to share the humor with coworkers or clients on company time. Therefore it is easier to let you go than keep you as the office comic.

Every post, picture, or status update you think your boss will never see in a million years tops online search results of your name by human resources. Be conscious of the fact that each one could cost you that dream job or send you to the nearest unemployment line.

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About the Author
Aprel Phelps Downey is a writing/marketing professional who holds more than seven years marketing experience, including all aspects of promotional and informational campaigns and website development.  To learn more about Aprel please visit her website at www.aprelphelpsdowney.com or follow her on twitter: @aphelpsdowney.
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