Everyone knows to check their Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter feeds, and Naymz profiles while they’re job searching right? Doesn’t seem that way. And once you have a job, it’s okay to relax a little, right? Wrong. Despite thousands of articles and tip lists imploring us to clean up our social media closets, we still don’t. I’m beginning to wonder if the problem isn’t awareness, it’s perspective. We know we should be careful, but we don’t see a problem. Like the guy who’s six beers into the night and doesn’t think he’s drunk, too many people think their witty political statements, bikini photos, and raging against the machine won’t make an impact on our careers. Huh.
Before I hire someone, I search everything online. Like a drug screen or a background check, this is becoming routine across companies. Different companies and roles have different hot buttons (especially if you work with children or heavy machinery), but here are some of the things I’ve uncovered that may be considered negative by some employers:
- Party pictures, specifically including the use of drugs and alcohol. Both by the target of my search and people in the background, and there’s guilt by association.
- Revealing pictures. These are what I find the most. Not always an issue, depending on the situation, but 300 pictures in various states of undress is far too many. This includes swimsuit pictures, shirtless pictures when playing flag football, etc. Candidates who obviously think they’re hot are assumed to be arrogant prima donnas. And candidates who appear to have no personal boundaries appear unprofessional, untrustworthy, and immature.
- Strongly worded posts/tweets. As I’ve mentioned before, don’t be a hateful person. Don’t talk about how much you hate the Packers, or how you just can’t tolerate Justin Bieber. Too much vitriol spoils chances. Bitchy, negative people wreak havoc on team chemistry.
- Strongly religious or political statements. You can be a fan of your church’s Facebook page–that’s fine. You can be a member of the College Republicans–no big deal. Glad to see you’re involved. But you can’t Tweet “abortion is murder” or “Psalm 14:1: The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” (I’ve seen both of these.) A good recruiter, whether religious or political or not, sees these proclamations as serious red flags. Would that candidate get along with the rest of the team?
- Anything egotistical. A stereotype of Generation Y is that they’re selfish, entitled brats who need trophies for turning in their work on time. Don’t fuel that fire.
- Anything dumb. I know–that’s a broad stroke. But spend five minutes on Twitter and you’ll know what I mean. “OMG–I just met the HOTTEST GUY!” “I’m gonna drink until I can’t remember today.” I’ve seen both of these from candidates. Ouch.
Lastly–a word on Facebook privacy settings. Everyone knows there’s a setting for Friends of Friends. Well guess what? That recruiter interviewing you from Fortune 500 Corp is friends on Facebook with 1,000 people, because that’s his job. Many of his friends are recent grads who now work for his company. Chances are, he’s a friend of one of your friends. So if you think “Friends of Friends” is a strong enough privacy setting for your pictures from Spring Break Cancun 2009, think again. And if it’s ever been on the Internet at all, crafty recruiters will find it.
So be careful out there. Even more careful than you’d think. I catch lots of otherwise amazing, well-meaning people with pictures and posts they shouldn’t want me to see. If you’re ever in doubt, take it out.