Protect Your Career From Your Personal Life | Undergrad Success

Protect Your Career From Your Personal Life

Protect Your Career From Your Personal Life
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Social networking is becoming a more common way to find a job. At first many were a little gun-shy. These online profiles have pictures, and information about age, political affiliations, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and all of the other things recruiters/employers aren’t supposed to know. Then, as HR got its feet wet, it got braver.

Companies started asking job applicants to open their Facebook accounts and show them the content. This made some people uneasy, but it could be justified. Your Social Networking profiles are publicly available information. It could be assumed that the average social networker (is that the correct term for us?) publishes their employment details online. It is important for a company to know how you are going to portray yourself as one of their employees. Look at some Twitter profiles if you want to see some examples. People put their employer’s name and position title…and then write “tweets are my own and do not represent my employer.” Your tweets do represent your employer though. Especially if you’re one of the people the client will need to interact with when receiving the company’s service. “Hey remember that douchebag who posted his unpopular opinion about the situation in the middle-east? I don’t want to buy a car from him.” Candidates even had the ability to make their profile employer friendly, and use it to their advantage in the interview. They could show pictures of travelling and engaging in activities that make them appear more well-rounded.

Now we’ve crossed a line into ridiculousness. Asking for someone’s Facebook password so you can peruse its content at your leisure is like asking for their personal cellphone so you can read their text messages. The ONLY reason companies have the ability to do this is due to a lack of legislation regarding online profiles of any kind. If you’re an employer and you’re debating whether this is a good idea or not…I’d play it safe and wait for some relevant case law. If you’re an employee, go back through your Facebook profile messages. Did you just realize that if you’ve never deleted them, they’re all still there? I did! What is an employer going to think of those messages…especially without the context of the relationship you have with that person?

For Example:

  • If someone did not understand my sense of humour, they would think I was really mean to my Mom.
  • Did you ever subscribe to a dating app for Facebook? Did you meet a lot of people?
  • Is your status still set to single? They’re gonna think you’re either a big player or just a sad, sad man.

Remember that time the obviously fake Facebook profile sent you a message asking for your banking information, and you responded in the most inappropriate manner you could think of to see if you could gross them out enough to stop messaging you? Facebook does! The employer isn’t gonna know that’s what you were doing. They’re gonna think you’re filthy…and double-jointed.
Technically, employers shouldn’t be allowed to ask for this information, and I’m confident they won’t be allowed to in the future. However, in the interim it might be a good idea to clean it up. You already know that anything you post online stays there forever. Well so do your emails and private messages. If an employer interviews one of your friends, they can access all of the messages you sent your friend as well. Just because you deleted the message, doesn’t mean they can’t find it. If you are talking to someone online, and you feel the urge to be inappropriate try not to use a site an employer would think to request access to. Telling someone off is much safer and more effective when done in person, or with a good old fashioned telephone call.


Undergrad Success thanks Scott Keenan from Educated and Inexperienced for this post!

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Scott Keenan is a recruiter for @PriorityCareers, with several years’ experience recruiting in both the public and private sectors in addition to marketing and social media roles. As a self-described professional cynic, he provides unique insight into modern recruiting from both the recruiter and candidate’s perspective. You can follow Scott on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn or check out his posts on The Priority Blog.

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