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Online Reputation

Facebook or Twitter – Your Online Reputation and Job Prospects

November 15, 2010

Now, with the availability of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, employers can learn a lot more about potential employees than was previously possible. Whilst before, a resume and references were the critical ways to screen candidates, now employers can find out a lot more about people they are thinking of hiring simply by looking at their online profiles.

Pictures put up on Facebook of drunken nights out and stupid behavior could seem fun and games, but sometimes this could make the difference between getting hired or fired.  Everything is public and searchable, and could potentially affect your career.  The easiest way for companies to find out about their employees is online; therefore monitoring your reputation online is extremely important.

Social Photos on Facebook could affect your Professional chances

Now that Facebook has grown into a site with about 250 million active users, it is less easy to keep things private. Even with the option of changing privacy settings so that you can control who sees what on your profile, Facebook still claims the right to grant them “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook”.

Facebook is known for making frequent changes to the site, so you can’t be sure that something that is currently private will not become public.  Kathy Gill, a Professor of Digital Media and Communication from University of Washington said, “I think it is wise to ask yourself before posting, how would I feel if my mother saw this? Or, how would I feel if I saw this in the local or college newspaper?”.

So, given that Facebook is used for both social and professional purposes, many statuses or photos put up for social reasons could affect your professional chances.

Loss of job offers are all too common

Van Allen, a man who runs a recruiting agency for hospitals and clinics is an example of an employer who has been put off hiring someone because of what has been found on their Facebook page. When looking into the online profile of a young female candidate with a promising resume for a physician’s job, he found numerous pictures of her topless.  This put Allen off hiring her: “Hospitals want doctors with great skills to provide great services to communities,” Allen said. “They also don’t want patients to say to each other, ‘Heard about Dr. Jones? You’ve got to see those pictures.’”

This is just one example of how activities recorded by social networking sites can effect the chances of being hired by certain companies. A study conducted by Harries Interactive for found that 35% of employers decided against offering a job to a candidate because of content found on a social networking site – the most popular site which employer’s check being Facebook.  Provocative photos, evidence of drink and drug use are among the top factors that would dissuade companies from hiring someone.

Being fired due to comments made on social networking sites

There are a number of incidents where people were fired due to comments made on social networking sites as well. Zach Good, a columnist from Penn State’s Daily Collegian was fired after students protested about comments opposing a campus cancer fundraiser.

Connor Riley, a 22 year-old lost his job offer at Cisco following his Tweet saying: ”Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work”.

So, great precautions should be taken about what gets posted on social networking sites, Even if you think a certain photo might be harmless fun, a potential employer could see it as a warning sign against hiring you.  Your online profile is the best way for employers to see what kind of a person they are thinking of hiring.

So whether we are in business, or individuals engaging in social media, we all need to bear in mind what our online profile says about us.