If you’ve read the headlines recently, you’ve read that potential employers are checking up on applicants in more ways than just calling their references. Many human resource folks have taken to the web to check out the things you didn’t tell them in your interview. The thing is, Manhattan is full of people who are trying to find jobs and when one opens up, people are jumping at it, even if they’re overqualified for it. That’s the job market as it stands right now.
The ethics of an employer peering into an applicant’s personal life may be on shaky ground, but it doesn’t prevent them from doing so. With the advance and continual perpetuation of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even YouTube to a degree, we can find information about a person with just a few clicks of a mouse. For some people, that’s no problem because they either have their profiles set to “private” or they are careful about what they post for the world to see. But for others, this can spell trouble.
With over 500 million satisfied customers, Facebook has become the world’s biggest city. A hub where you can meet and talk to anyone and everyone, post pictures from your Sweet 16 party or the Black Eyed Peas at the Garden. It’s also a place where people can get a fairly well-rounded view of who you are. Think about it. By adding together the pictures you upload, the ideas you post, what your friends say to you on your wall and the YouTube videos you either subscribe to or are the star of, an employer can get a quick idea about the person they’re considering for the position. Is that version of you that they can create in their minds based on what you’ve posted on Facebook accurate? To avoid any confusion, and just for your own safety, you should have your profile set to “private” or restrict who can see what you’ve got on there.
The other digital platform that most people don’t think about is the blogosphere. Many people have blogs that they use to post personal musings, link videos, and show off their hobbies and skills. For most people, they don’t have an internet-wide-view of who can see their blog and you should know that anyone can get to it through various means. Even a simple Google search on something only tangentially related can bring readers to your site and while that’s great in the sense of your escalated readership, you need to make sure that the “you” you’re presenting to the world is the “you” that you want them to see.
The “YouTube” generation is coming into the job market unlike any other generation before it, in that we interact on these online platforms sometimes as much as we interact with real people. It’s easier to send someone a text of a quick question than to call them and checking and updating Facebook is only one scroll away on your Blackberry. But it’s important that applicants understand that everything they put online could be viewed by potential employers and to err on the side of safety, set your information to “private.” Better safe than sorry right?