Employers view social networking sites before hiring employees

By Mallory Terrence
April 17, 2008

Have you ever googled yourself? Well if you haven’t, there is a good chance your future employer will.

It is not unusual for a company to run a background check through a search engine on all possible job candidates. But background checks are not stopping at Google and Yahoo; it is now becoming a trend for employers to check social networking sites before hiring an employee.

Sites like Facebook and Myspace have been a way for college students to chronicle their lives with photos and messages. While most use the site to socialize with friends, some behavior could be considered vulgar and inappropriate.

Most employees would not prefer to see their young employee under-age drinking, dressed up in a sexy Halloween custom or doing keg stands. Yet those are the types of things someone could find while searching the public profiles.

Research conducted by The University of Dayton’s Career Services found that 40 percent of employers said they would consider the content posted on a potential employee’s Facebook profile as part of their hiring decision.

“I don’t think Facebook should be a reason for not getting a job. What you do in your free time has nothing to do with your working ethics or how you behave in a professional environment. I act totally different at night with my friends than I do when around adults or at work,” Allie Rodolico, a freshman communication major, said.

In a survey done by CollegeGrad.com, 47 percent of college graduates seeking jobs who use social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have either already changed or plan to change the content of their pages as a result of their job search.

Colleen Torrence, a senior education major, says she will probably delete her Facebook account after graduation, and knows many people who have. Torrence recognizes that employers check such sites and does not want to risk not getting a job because content displayed on her page.

Students must understand that pictures and words, once intended for your friends only, is reaching a much larger audience and could harm you in the job market. Most social networking sites have settings that allow the user to limit who can view their profile.

“I am very careful about pictures and information I post. I don’t get very personal. It’s just a way of communication,” Brie Buemi, a senior business administration major, said.

Nancy Hutchison, director of cooperative education and career services, advices all students who are pursuing co-ops, internships or full-time employment, to clean up their virtual accounts and be mindful of what information is available.

If employers are using social networking sites to further look into possible employers, then why not use your page to promote yourself? Facebook and Myspace could be a great tools to help you get a job. By keeping your page professional, posting skills and past work experience, your page could easily be a virtual resume.

Mallory Terrence

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