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The Downside to Social Networking

Think of a time when Facebook, Twitter, or some type of social networking site wasn’t the default homepage on your laptop. In today’s society, it’s hard to remember how we stayed connected to friends and family before these tools were at our fingertips. Public personal information, pictures, and even videos seemed like the most efficient way to ensure that friends always knew the most up-do-date information on our lives. Today, however, Facebook and other online social networks use this same information to garner unwanted attention from potential employers.

According to an article from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in 2009, Facebook made all the information that users posted to their profiles, searchable through the web. Although they did update their security features, such changes were ambiguously noted when Facebook reset many privacy features to “Everyone.”

The National Association of Colleges and employers reported that this leaves names, pictures, birthdays and other private details unknowingly exposed to the world. But even adjusting the privacy settings to reflect a more modest profile, does not change the fact that Facebook’s policy does not take responsibility for what others may post about you, plighting the once innocent social networking experience.

Monitoring your online reputation is now something that needs to be considered when using social networking sites like Facebook. The tagged image for this article is an appropriate picture of my family and I that would be fine to see on Facebook, as well as a screenshot of my profile. Regardless of whether or not you agree with employers screening your Facebook before hiring, the fact is, it is happening. In 2006 ExecuNet, an online membership site that provides users with a database of executives as well as executive level job opportunities, conducted a survey about this issue.

They asked 100 executive recruiters if they used search engines as part of their screening process. Results from the Journal of Education for Business in 2010 revealed that an overwhelming 77% have, and 35% have eliminated prospective employees because of the information they found on the Internet. Further, the job-listing database CareerBuilder.com held a similar survey that also produced startling results.

They surveyed 1,150 hiring managers, asking if they used internet searches and social networking sites in their screening process. Results showed that 26% did use the Internet, while 12% used social networking sites specifically. Of that 12% who screened potential employees based on their online social profile, “63% said they did not hire the person based on what they found,” said the Journal of Education for Business.

Taking a second look at your Facebook profile, Twitter account, or Myspace could be the deciding factor when applying for jobs. Facebook and other social networking sites were created to be an extension of oneself; a place where users could create and share information and events at their leisure and in their own original fashion. However, for many users, what they post to social networking sites versus what they present to employers on their resume is vastly different.

Research from the Journal of Education for Business additionally shows that college aged Facebook users are more likely to post provocative photographs in hopes of inviting attention of the opposite sex. Such photos and negative online image are the red flags employers are looking to stay away from. The Federal Communications Law Journal reports that when utilizing their options and choice in hiring decisions, searching the internet and social networking sites is only logical when selecting the best possible employee. Although this may seem like a stressful, even invasive tactic in the hiring process, there is a simple solution.

Make sure that your profile is set to the most private setting on everything from what you write, get tagged in, as well the personal information you provide. But, most importantly, make sure that what you write on your resume is directly reflective of the image you portray on the internet, that way, your Facebook could be the reason you do get a job instead of the reason you don’t.

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