Landing a job is difficult enough in our nation’s bleak job market, but when potential new hires make the mistake of posting inappropriate, private materials on Facebook, or any other social networking site, they run the risk of “black balling” themselves from future prospects. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace are just some of the networking sites that employers visit to obtain further background on a new hire. If you are one of many that post every single thought, along with quotes, pictures, and such of your personal life – that should by all means remain private; then it’s time to realize the importance of maintaining that privacy on those public domains.

A recent example of the importance of not posting every thought that comes to mind is the, “Fatty Cisco Job” tweet on Twitter. This person, who had just been offered a job with Cisco, unconsciously posts a negative thought about how they would love the pay check, but would hate the commute and the work even more. Now, I’d like to give this person the benefit of the doubt; maybe they were thinking the social network on Twitter was relatively small, and that no one would really see it? However, this is not the case. An employee of Cisco did see the tweet, and went so far as commenting back himself. He let that potential new hire know that he would make the hiring manager aware of their true feelings about the job. Was it a stupid thing for the potential new hire to do? Definitely. But it’s done everyday, without a thought of what consequence it may bring to your doorstep.

Whether or not the content a person publishes is done simply in humor, the fact remains that it is still published on a public network for anyone and everyone to read. We wish to remind folks that they are responsible for their own reputation, and even if content that is published on these sites means nothing to you, it may mean something else to others. It’s best to remember that nothing makes a person more accountable than the written word.

Now, as with most social networking sites, there is the simple process which allows a user to maintain their privacy through the click of a button; granting access to their page only to the “friends and family” they have chosen. It’s very easy to do, and if Facebook has become an avenue for you to vent- and you’re actively seeking employment- then it is greatly advised that you establish those parameters. There still may be ways for others not on your authorized list to have access to your page, but it’s usually done from the computer you use most. Remember not to save passwords or leave them out for others to view, and it won’t become an issue.

People are quickly becoming more aware of the damaging effects that Facebook present when on the hunt for a job. Below you’ll find a list of helpful suggestions that we feel may be beneficial for you.

· First and foremost: Activate the privacy settings. Whether these settings are to your homepage, or simply make you an anonymous tweeter, engage them. Try to keep your information as private as possible.
· Refrain from posting context, pictures, and quotes from others…, which can get you into hot water. Inappropriate material always has the potential to come back and bite you later.
· Monitor your information as well as what others post to your page. Inappropriate comments from others may get you into trouble as much as if they were your own words.
· Avoid discussing personal matters online. If you’re not careful, the game of “he said she said” is off and running, with you being the only loser.

Becky Meas