There are many questions that swirl around the subject of potential employers using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace in the candidate-screening process: is it an invasion of privacy? is it discrimination? is it effective? Although you may have a concrete opinion, your take on the matter is largely irrelevant–particularly in the short-run.
Potential employers run definite risks when relying on web information about prospective employees, as legal expert Lester S. Rosen points out, but you can’t stop a company from running a web search on your name. You can, however, control what you put on the internet and what privacy settings you opt for. Focusing on what’s in your control can empower you in putting your best foot forward, showing potential employers the real, responsible you.
Are Employers Actually Looking at My Online Profiles on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Etc.?
Social Media Expert Gini Dietrich recently shared of her experience moderating a panel of credentialed professionals representing various companies. In her piece “Using Social Media to Find a Job,” Dietrich explains that the conversation revealed an overwhelming consensus: looking at your online interactions is a given and positive findings are mandatory for being hired. Granted, the social media panel has a special interest in checking out your online profiles, but their concern regarding your personal life is not an isolated one.
Brad Walsh, president of Job Bound and a featured guest on Dr. Phil, says he–along with the majority of corporate America–absolutely views Facebook and Myspace profiles along with performing additional Google searches. In “How Your Online Profile Could Sabotage Your Future” on Dr. Phil’s site, Walsh is quoted: “We live in the information age and companies want as much information on you before they make a huge commitment of time, resources and money.” The simple truth: don’t post online something you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.
What Should I Be Particularly Careful About Having Posted Online?
The Dr. Phil guide goes on to point out the two potential deal-breakers for employers as (1) pictures of you drinking/drunk and (2) mention of drugs or any illegal activity. Photos can often be misconstrued or taken out of context, making what was legitimately innocent appear questionable. Similarly, making inappropriate comments–even in joking, as Wash warns–speaks volumes about professionalism and maturity.
Gini Dietrich, in adding to the list of don’ts, also advises to avoid being negative, especially when it comes to your job search. “Sure, a bad day happens, but if it’s a daily occurrence, no employer in their right mind will touch you with a 10 foot pole.”
Because of your strict privacy settings, you may feel you have nothing to worry about. But, if you refuse to comply with an employer before you’re even interviewed, you can probably kiss the interview goodbye.
Gini Dietrich, “Using Social Media to Find a Job.” Associated Content.
“How Your Online Profile Could Sabotage Your Future.” DrPhil.com.
JobBound, “Facebook Mistakes – Dr. Phil (1/5/08).” Youtube.
Lester S. Rosen, “A Warning To Employers: the Use of Myspace or Facebook In Hiring Decisions May Be Hazardous to Your Business!” Recruiter Networking Group.