The Downside of Social Media

Published on 22 July 2010 by Kelly Riggs in Career Building, Job Search


social media 300x250 The Downside of Social MediaAs if looking for employment didn’t pose enough of a challenge, here is an entirely new problem for those seeking employment – the effective use of social media. No, no, no…not how to use it for networking or job search, but how not to use it. It seems many job candidates torpedo their chances with some employers because of the inappropriate things they post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Is that fair to job candidates? Apparently so, according to this article:

Four years ago, Stacy Snyder, then a 25-year-old teacher in training at Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pa., posted a photo on her MySpace page that showed her at a party wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup, with the caption “Drunken Pirate.” After discovering the page, her supervisor at the high school told her the photo was “unprofessional,” and the dean of Millersville University School of Education, where Snyder was enrolled, said she was promoting drinking in virtual view of her under-age students. As a result, days before Snyder’s scheduled graduation, the university denied her a teaching degree. Snyder sued, arguing that the university had violated her First Amendment rights by penalizing her for her (perfectly legal) after-hours behavior. But in 2008, a federal district judge rejected the claim, saying that because Snyder was a public employee whose photo didn’t relate to matters of public concern, her “Drunken Pirate” post was not protected speech.

Since Facebook and other sites are public domain sites, it looks like they are fair game for assessing your common sense and discretion. So, next time you get in one of those “drunken pirate” moods, you might want to hold off on posting the pics. I’m just sayin’…

This article further points out that 75 percent of recruiters and HR professionals scrutinize online sites for information about job candidates, and 70 percent of those individuals have actually rejected a candidate based on information obtained from these sites. As companies seek to acquire the best talent they can find, they have been given the golden opportunity to not only assess that talent, but to assess the character of that talent as well.

Formerly, employers were limited to a credit check, a background check, and all those stellar references you put on your resume. Now, however, you have willingly opened up your entire world for them to examine – which, by the way, can be a good thing just as much as a potential risk. After all, your Facebook page could just as easily reveal a solid citizen as much as it could reveal a scalawag.

With recruiters and HR professionals on the prowl, consider this “Word to the Wise:” You might want to check out your Facebook page and analyze it from an employer’s point-of-view. Does your online persona reveal someone that might be considered a huge hiring risk?

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