As college students, it’s safe to say that the Internet and more specifically Social Networking sites are an integral part of our lives. However, when it comes time to apply for jobs and internships special attention needs to be paid to what images and information not only you but others are placing online. Employers are actively searching Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts as part of standard background checks to find out who potential candidates “really are”. Everything you put on the Internet, even if it is in a password protected forum or account, could conceivably be found by someone.
1. What are your Privacy Settings?
Most employers admit that one of the first things they do is search for the Facebook, Myspace and Twitter accounts of candidates. If your settings are not set to private this means a simple Google search of your name will pull up your profile. Having your setting to private is a good practice to have regardless of content on your page because of pedophiles, hackers and people who will try to steal your identity. This is not to say employers can’t see your profile through other means, however setting your privacy settings to the highest level of security does make this task harder.
2. Tagged Photos, Anyone?
It is important to not only be cognizant of the types of images that you put up but also the types of images and posts that your friends put up and tag you in. Why? First you never know who may be a mutual friend and an employer might be able to gain access to your profile in that manner. Also, in most cases people set their photo albums to private but not their tagged images so when someone searches your name they may not be able to access our complete profile they can still see these tagged photos. In addition to photos, you have to be careful of what friends post on your people. Employers look through wall post to see the “character” of candidates.
3. Money Talks !?!
Due to the very public nature of the internet, nothing is really private and some companies are so serious in there hiring practices they approach a murky ethical line to find out about their employees and candidates, Reputationdefender.com offers “to monitor one’s Web reputation for $10 a month plus a one-time fee of $30 to remove from the Web an unwanted item that may have slipped out of the user’s control.” This means employers can hire outside companies to gain access to your accounts. Companies also create “fake profiles” to gain access. The lesson that should be taken away from this is don’t post anything online you wouldn’t mind your boss, parents and minister seeing /).
When using Facebook or MySpace is that current employees waive many of their privacy expectations when using their employer’s computer systems, especially after being informed that their online activities can be monitored.