post at your own risk


By Barbara J. Bowes

ou’re up to 180 friends, and you just can’t wait to show them all those pictures of you funneling four beers at last weekend’s party. At the same time you’re preparing for the job interview of a lifetime. According to recent statistics, many potential employers are Googling, and checking out Facebook/MySpace pages of applicants. So you may want to think twice before you hit that post button. Millions of people are signing up for social networking websites, such as Facebook and MySpace, specifically to share their interests, connect with friends and make new friends. Companies and organizations are even getting into the act.

Some, for instance, are using the social networking sites as a recruiting tool by inviting loyal employees to spread the good word about working with their firm.

On the other hand, a recent survey by the largest human resource association in the U.S. found that nearly 50 per cent of all HR professionals were at least running candidate names through a search engine like Google or Yahoo! before making a job offer. In other words, they’re using the Internet to check out what kind of  “footprint” you’ve created in your world.

always be vigilant in what you include in your online profile, what you comment on and what photos you share

This finding is supported by a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in which more than one in 10 employers (11.1 per cent) reported plans to review profiles on social networking when considering candidates for jobs.

Both studies also suggest that a growing number of employers who review social networking sites acknowledge that the information will indeed have some influence on their hiring decisions. In fact, at least one in five of HR professionals who conducted online and social networking searches, actually disqualified a candidate because of what they uncovered. So, as you can see, the impression you leave on the Internet is the impression gained by your potential next employer.

What does this mean for job seekers? It means that you must always be vigilant in what you include in your online profile, what you comment on especially when discussing people within your life and what photos you share. The following guidelines will ensure your first job or your next job isn’t jeopardized by carelessness.

0 SMART connections // spring 2008

Set up your own personal guidelines -be responsible and use common sense. Know exactly what you are willing to engage in and what you are not. Gain a good understanding of what is legal and responsible. Own, manage and monitor your information aggressively.

Manage the personal touch – social web-sites are available with the touch of a keyboard anywhere in the world which is leading to an increase in identity theft. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid giving too much personal information such as your cell phone number, home address or birthdate.

Keep your views to yourself – sharing political or angry rantings directed at your fellow man may cause you to be expelled from an athletic team, discounted from receiving a scholarship or fired from your employment. Be safe, use discretion and keep negative comments about friends, colleagues, teachers, employers or rivals to yourself.

Ask permission -while you may have caught your friends in a funny or compromising position, these photos should not be posted to your site. More than likely you don’ have their permission, but you might also be jeopardizing their job opportunities too. And remember, you are judged by the company you keep.

Post a photo in good taste – it’s true that networkers will want to know what you look like, but make sure all photos are in good taste and show you in a positive light. Potential employers will not be impressed with photos of a drunken tabletop dance.

Build a positive profile – with more and more employers using the internet to check out your worldly “footprint”, take advantage by creating a positive profile that will attract employers. Use it to increase your visibility and credibility. Include your volunteer accomplishments, or your A+ college projects.

Personal website and résumés – unless your site offers a positive profile and will attract potential employers to learn more about what you can do as an employee, then don’t include it in your resumé. If you do include your site, make sure it is relevant to the job you are applying for.

Be aware of information collection – be aware that some sites may be collecting and sharing data about your online movements and activities without your knowledge or permission. When this data reaches the hands of a potential employer, your job chances might be thwarted.

Company recruiters are always seeking new ways to confirm their evaluations of potential new employees. They want to ensure a good social fit with company culture just as much as they want to confirm your skills. With the Internet and social networking growing at such a fast pace, it is not unexpected that more and more company recruiters will access sites as a fast and efficient means of “checking” people out.

Source: Job Outlook 2007 Fall Preview Survey, NACE, How Deep Can You Probe? Many employers are going online to check out job candidates. But does the practice carry hidden risks? By Rita Zeidner, SHRM Magazine, October, 2007. Facebook fiasco caused by economics of the web, PC Advisor, Jan. 4,2008.


Pegasus Publications Inc.