Secrets of the Job Hunt


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hey MySpace, Facebook Users: Employers Are Watching

With the rise of such social networking sites as Facebook and MySpace, workers are running into a new problem; what some consider self-expression on personal time is effecting their ability to obtain or keep employment.

More and more recruiting managers are using these profiles as part of an informal background check, surfing the web to gather information about the personal lives of potential employees. What these employers are looking for when they begin to view these profiles depends on the individual handling the job search. For the most part, hiring managers are looking for things that discredit the positive perception they gathered from an interview with an applicant.

In a world of "better safe than sorry," employers are using social networking sites to determine if the applicant has conflicting personal values to the culture of the workplace. This can be as obvious as the applicants admissions of recreational drug usage on their MySpace profile or something more subtle. In some cases, employers have used the comments an applicant's friends have left them to reach a hiring decision.

For help, says pictures depicting drunken misadventures seem to be some of the most common evidence used against an applicant. Although the person may know that the images were from a once a year celebration, the employer does not. An abundance of such pictures seems to hint at a substance abuse problem or at the very least, an individual who does not conduct themselves in a manner that the company views as beneficial to their image. On a similar note, overtly sexual photos seem to say that the person in question has little self-respect.

Blog entries can be equally damaging to one's career. For most, the public diaries are a way to connect and stay in touch with peers of similar mindsets and experiences. To employers, they are a way to learn more about the applicant as a person. Even comments made sarcastically, comments that friends and family would understand, can be taken in the wrong way.

For the most part, people don't want to use their personal profiles to advertise their credentials or to discuss the finer points of volunteering at an orphanage. So, how does one maintain an office friendly persona and express their individuality? Changing a profile's security settings to private or friends only can help avoid the situation all together. In these cases, only the main picture has to be employer-approved.

For those who want their profiles to remain viewable to the public, things can be trickier. Keeping the written content on a PG level is a good start. Posting only pictures that could easily be shown to mom is also a good idea. At the very least, make albums that contain more questionable photos only accessible to friends. Doing the same with blog entries will help having one’s application tossed in the garbage can.

On a final note, for those with friends with particularly wacky senses of humor, it might be best to set profile comments so that they must be approved before they appear publicly. This will keep employers from making their hiring decision based on a picture of a nun and an otter in an awkward position that the roommate just had to share.

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