Avoid These 7 Social Networking Photo Distasters

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Drunk woman passed out at barEmbarrassing moments happen to everyone, many times because of something the individual did. Accidents happen. You have a good laugh, shake it off and keep on pushing. Yet, sometimes certain slip ups occur that can be costly.

Prime example: I attended a conference a few years ago while in school. The speaker was pulling up his power point slides as the room of well over 200 people waited patiently. Suddenly, a loud gasp came from the audience. I looked up to see a photo of a woman dressed in lingerie and knee-high leather boots holding a whip in her hand. She stood on a bed, bending over guess who? The guest speaker.

Now imagine not only the shock of the audience, but that of the speaker to see this image broadcasted on a giant screen to a room full of professors, deans and students. Immediately, people began to question: Who is the woman? Is she his wife? Is he even married? And after the questions subsided, the accusations and assumptions rolled in.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and those words can either benefit you or harm you. It’s no surprise most recruiters today look at an applicant’s social network profiles to gain a better sense of him or her. Below are seven types of photos to stay away from to avoid a social network photo disaster.

Alcoholic beverages

These types of pictures (as well as all the others listed) should be obvious, yet I am amazed at the amount of people I see who willingly post pictures of them drinking or being drunk. Not a good idea. Alcohol is often associated with partying and reckless behavior. Although this may not always be the case, it’s better to avoid promoting yourself drinking or drunk to eliminate the inevitable negative assumptions that come with it. Also, be cautious of publishing pictures of you holding up a random cup (especially one that’s red and plastic), or cups where the beverage color is visible. It may be apple juice, but a recruiter may not assume that after looking at a picture. Photos containing beverages that clearly show you in a “credible setting” e.g. Starbucks, with coffee mugs or non-alcoholic beverages showing the labels are the exception.

Illegal activities

Do employers want to hire car thieves? Animal abusers? Those who vandalize with graffiti? Do not post pictures of you doing anything illegal, violent or near an illegal act. Just as the person who was there but didn’t pull the trigger in the robbery will receive consequences, so will you in any photos showing you in close proximity of illegal activities.

Flicking off cameras

This is a common action to do in photos among younger generations. Photos displaying your middle finger are distasteful and immediately send a red flag to employers.

 Grabbing body parts

Why are these types of poses so popular? Touching your body or others’ bodies provocatively in pictures does not portray the level of professionalism a company is seeking.

Nudity, scantily dressed

Photos of you barely wearing any clothes or not wearing any at all are definite NOs. Businesses have dress codes for a reason; they care about their employees’ appearances because they reflect the companies. An individual’s profile on a social network reflects him or her. No employer will want to hire those who allow nudity or inappropriate dress to reflect them.


Unless it’s clear you’re at a gun range, hunting or some other sport where weapons are common, avoid these photos. An individual posing with a gun or knife opens the door to an array of questions and concerns from a recruiter.

Inappropriate Uploads

Sometimes you don’t have to be in the photo at all for it to harm you. Recruiters can see the photos you’ve uploaded. If you have numerous photos of animal cruelty or violence employers are going to make assumptions about your interests—and they won’t be positive. Also, beware of photos you are tagged in on Facebook. Someone could have snapped a questionable photo of you without you being aware of it. Even if you had no prior knowledge, the photo can damage your chances of landing a job after an employer sees it and associates you with certain behaviors.

By Shala Marks