The social media world was abuzz yesterday after a survey commissioned by CareerBuilder.com reported that 45 percent of HR professionals are looking at your social media profiles before deciding to hire you.
We've been hearing reports of people fired, censured or chastised for the stupid shit they post to Facebook, MySpace, etc, for years. The surprise here might actually be that only 45 percent are doing this. Can it be a good sign for American industry that half of the companies around are so tech-clueless they don't take a quick peak at your Facebook to see if you're a fan of Charles Manson before hiring you to work with children? In a curiously related note, the Denver Business Journal reported today that another survey says a third of high-level executives are "not at all comfortable" being "friended" by subordinates on social media. Big surprise: Companies want to check your profile to see if you're stupid enough to post pictures of yourself snorting cocaine off a stripper's ass, but the execs aren't so keen on you looking at their profile to see if they're doing the same things....
Still not clear on whether you're safe? Read on for a few easy to follow rules that should keep you in the clear.
Don't be a dumbass: The number one rule is that simple. Be aware that social media is just that, social, and anything incriminating you put up there publicly could come back to haunt you. No, strike that: It will come back to haunt you. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you have to ask, "Should I put this up?," then no. No, you shouldn't.
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Turn on the privacy: Almost every social networking service has privacy options. If you are looking for a job, or just got a new one, it might be a good idea to lock everything down. Make your Facebook profile private, protect your tweets, etc. If you can't figure out how to do this, find a thirteen-year-old girl to show you how. This isn't perfect, but it's better than nothing.
Parallel Profiles: Really want to go all James Bond up in this bitch? Set up parallel profiles -- one for work people, one for your real friends. Lock the "real" one, hide it behind a pseudonym, nickname or variation of your business name (say "Matty" instead of "Matthew") and make sure the "fake" is way easier to find in search engines and full of clean, wholesome content. (Likes: Church, puppies, working way too hard for not enough money. Dislikes: Strippers, cocaine, asking for a raise). These people aren't super spies (unless you are applying to the CIA, in which case, god help you). So when they find the first profile, they'll stop looking.
And, a bonus rule: Don't ask your new boss to be friends online, since it could make him uncomfortable. Of course, if you want to make him uncomfortable, you now know an easy way....