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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Facebook, MySpace, et al

Hi -

What are your thoughts on social networking? Both from the perspective of, is it good to have internal ways to achieve social networking in the company, and is it fair to view a candidate negatively because you Google them see evidence of previous poor judgment such has her spring break pictures from ten years ago, or his blog blasting corporations?

Thanks very much.

I may be a hip, with it, blogger (Vote for Me!!!), but I'm actually quite clueless when it comes to social networking sites.

Networking, in general, is how you find a job. Sure, is fine and dandy and all that, but how you find a job depends a lot on who you know. These social networking sites increase the group of "who you know." The question is, just how much do you want them to know about you?

My friends at work have no idea that on weekends I put on my Wonder Woman costume and run around stopping crime, flying in my invisible jet. (The previous sentence is a lie, everyone knows that there is no such thing as an invisible jet. It's really a specially designed Piper Archer.) My question is, do I want a potential employer to know about this? (That's the real reason this blog is anonymous.)

The answer, of course, is no.

The problem with social networking sites is that it can cause a huge blur between your personal and your professional life. Sure, as your "buddy list" grows your chances for "ins" at companies increases. But, are you really going to get recommended for a job when your "friends" have seen pictures of you doing things that fall into the category of "really stupid."

Here's my stellar, crabby old lady advice: Keep your personal life personal. If you wan to have a MySpace page with scantily clad pictures of yourself don't say on there, "Hi! My name is Jane A. Doe! I live in Doetown IA and I graduated from Rutger's University in 2006. I try to do as little as possible at work so I can have more time to P.A.R.T.Y!!!!!" If you must write that, just leave out the Jane A. Doe part and call yourself, "stupid party chick."

I would advise HR to avoid looking at such pages when they are doing reference checks, but caution candidates that the internet is forever.

Now, as for more professional sites like LinkedIn, I don't think there is as much of a problem. But that is designed to be more professional. Use it for it's intended purpose--to get professional contacts. Not to brag about your weekend exploits.


Wally Bock said...

The Evil One has once again offered sage advice. Keep your private life as private as you can.

Why do you have a Facebook or MySpace page? If it's to impress people with your partying ability or drinking prowess, perhaps those spring break pictures are fine. But if you want to impress a prospective employer with your employability, make sure there are things on your page that do that or, at the very least, that the keg-stand pix are in a private area.

Why? Because more and more employers will check you out online before making a hiring decision.

Most of the HR people I know are smart enough to recognize that your spring break photos are from ten years ago. What they'll want to know is why they're up on the web. If you're 27 or so and they're on your page, that will take a bit of explaining. If they're on someone else's page they'll expect you to have requested the pix be taken down.

What Evil is suggesting is that you shouldn't make things harder on yourself than they need to be.

The Happy Employee said...

Social Networks and the Net in general are an interesting topic, but it's not yet relevant to HR.

At the moment we're mostly interested in getting applicant's and ex-employee's personal email addresses in case we want to contact them.

The Internet is a cool tool for emails and the company homepage, but personal sites are still mostly considered infantile.

This is me playing the Oracle: within the next 5 years most people under 30 (the workforce of the future) will have a "consolidated" online presence (meaning all spring break pics will only be available under an alias) and we'll be looking up their CVs on their social network pages.

I like Ben Casnocha's advice (a kid who started his own company at age 12 and wrote his biography at age 19): Secure a domain with your own name and post the info you want people to see. The alternative is that they will find info about you on the net, but then you won't be able to control it.

The future is scary... I hope I won't ever have to conduct a job interview by IM...

Evil HR Lady said...

Happy Employee--
I don't think I'd say networking sites aren't relevant to HR. They are about people and we're in the business of people.

HR & Management Blog said...

One of the great things to note about myspace and facebook is you can set your page to private. This means that only people that you have accepted as a friend, can view your pictures and anything else you have on the site. I myself am an avid myspace user. I like to keep in contact with my friends all over the country. This being said, my page is set to private. If you are using these websites for networking and your site is set so the public can view it, and possible future employers, than it's very important to portray yourself in a professional light and be very careful about who you allow in your network. As others comments and pages can also reflect back on you.

Just another HR lady... said...

Interestingly enough, I went to a law seminar last week and one of the topics was legal issues that Facebook and other social networking sites will cause for HR in future.

Notwithstanding the time-lost at work on these sites, several cases (in Canada anyway) are also winding through the courts at the moment where employees were dismissed for info posted on their Facebook or other social networking sites regarding their workplace. (i.e. Status: My XYZ Inc. boss sucks and the like..) All the cases are currently under appeal of course, but it is something I'll be watching.

Anonymous said...

I am very tech savvy and active in social networking. I wouldn’t think about googleing a candidate or current employee. Yes, I might check out their linkedin profile, but unless they specifically directed me to their myspace/livejournal/flickr/facebook/whatever page, I would never google them. I don’t want to know when, where or with whom they partied last weekend. Stick my head in the sand, na na na I can’t hear you. I understand that there are certain jobs for which personal outside activities could negatively impact business, that is fine and dandy, set the expectations in the interview. Never put anything on the internet that you would be embarrassed to see on the New York Times; but who among us can really afford to live in a glass house. Bedsides what one person considers a lack in judgment, another might think of as a tasteful display of independence. If at all possible, HR should not be the morality police.

Sara said...

FYI though -- SOME companies are looking. Google myspace/facebook and recruitment... you will see the articles talking about it. Ivy league grads are not getting jobs because some companies are taking these sites seriously. Whether or not you agree with their choices (I do not but...), at the end of the day, they make the hiring decision.

curiouscat said...

As you mention people do need to take care of leaving foolish online traces but I think too little is said about the benefits of a good online presence. I agree with Seth Godin who has said the best online presence is a good blog not social network sites.