Monday, March 16, 2009

Job Seeking in the Age of Facebook

This is a guest post by Donna Ray Chmura, Esq. Sands Anderson Marks & Miller, P.C. Photo is by Andrew Feinberg.

We live in a time of unparalleled access to people’s personal information and a resulting loss of anonymity. Or, as the blogosphere puts it, “Google is Forever”.

In this day and age, job applicants need to be very aware of what their online profiles say about them. According to a CareerBuilder survey published in The Business Insider, 22 percent of employers check applicant’s Facebook, Twitter and MySpace profiles.

From personal knowledge, I can tell you that parents are checking out potential babysitters and nannies. I have always searched job applicants to spot check their resumes (I never considered interviewing the woman with a great resume whose last three listed jobs had no internet presence at all—was she making it all up?).

Now I conduct a more general online search, including scrutinizing profiles. I am looking for general character and maturity, drug and/or alcohol abuse, whether you are trashing former employers or being sloppy with confidential information.

Try it. Go to your favorite search engine (Google, Yahoo, Dogpile) and type in your name in quotes (use your proper name and your nickname and see if it makes a difference. What do you see?

Do you look responsible and trustworthy, or will I assume you will be too hung over to work on Mondays? Do your friends trash their co-workers, bosses and employers on MySpace? If so, I might assume you will come in and destroy morale. Do you present the kind of image your new employer would be proud to share with vendors or clients, or do you look like a Hooters waitress?

Sure you have a right to express your opinion and be yourself. But, as long as they are not basing their hiring decision on your race, sex, religion, age, family status or national origin, employers are entitled to their opinion of you as well.

Only you can decide if employment is worth a little online clean-up.

Donna Ray Chmura practices in the areas of contract and commercial law, business formation, employment law, commercial real estate, merger and acquisition, licensing, trademark and copyright prosecution and other areas of corporate legal interest. She is a member of the Business, Finance & Real Estate practice group in Sands Anderson’s Research Triangle Park office. She is an author of Follow her on Twitter: @DonnaChmura. Call: (919) 993-3300 or Email.

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