Be Careful About Using Social Media Sites

Lots of folks these days have a presence on sites like Facebook, My Space, Classmates and other social networking sites. And there’s nothing wrong with using these sites for their intended purpose. However, if you’re looking for a job or in a professional position of responsibility you had better be very mindful of the content of any posting you leave on line. Too often people tend not think about the fact that more than just their intended audience may be looking at what they say on these sorts of sites or the forums of various groups they belong to. In the process forgetting that it can be as easy as just typing your name into a Google search to bring up every mention of your name on line.

Well, an increasing percentage of employers are researching their current or potential employees’ on line posting these days. And in many cases they are doing a whole lot more than just running your name through a search engine. For example, hiring what amount to on line detectives to confirm what you have put in your job application. In the process finding anything else that might be on line about you. Now let’s imagine for a minute that you are applying for a great job at a company that has a somewhat conservative public image and they find some pictures of you and your buddies at a bachelor party with bleary eyes holding up some cold ones toasting the camera. Well, if they don’t happen to have a sense of humor about such things guess what? You don’t get to join the team. And worse, you may never even know why, instead getting the dreaded “we just don’t think you would fit in here” response. The really bad part about this being that once something is on the internet it’s pretty much there for ever. You can take it off a particular site and if people are not too diligent you can get a break. But if they hire an e-bloodhound you may have a problem.

Okay, so now that we understand the potential problem. What can you do about it. My personal opinion is that if you know that there are a few unsavory things about you floating around on some of these sites the best you can hope for is a little misdirection. And let me be clear here. I am not talking about lying. I mean deliberately pointing them in another place that you have prepared specifically for an employer to see. For example a well-prepared profile on a professional networking site like Linked In or a web site or blog you have set up for talking about your profession. Now if they dig around and find some stuff that they don’t like anyway the jig is up, all you can do is fess up and deal with it the best you can.

In the end my advice to you is that if you want to go out have a little better time or voice some opinions than might be considered less than professional, don’t document it on line.

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