Facebook Fun or Employment Suicide

Employers can be pretty sneaky these days.  A click of a mouse turns the Boss into Magnum Pi from the comfort of his mock leather swivel chair. Before Kojak has finished his lollipop or a New York Cop his Donut, an employer will have your personal life displayed on his PC  in all its glory.

Recruiters like me have been doing Google searches for years, checking Facebook profiles and following on Twitter. Largely to get a bit of extra background on candidates that would help with an employment application. Also it is a super resource to look for candidates. But, my goodness, have I seen some revealing things.

A group in the UK did a survey of Facebook and discovered that 70% of all pictures on the social network have at least one drunk person in them. Which means it is quite hard for me to find a suitable professional picture for a CV.  A beer bottle balanced on a candidates head at a party does not make a great impression on the average employer.

A lot of people protect their profiles which helps stop people like me snooping. However, a clever recruiter or potential employer can still find all sorts of gems on line.

Let me give you a serious example. Trip advisor and other travel sites allow comments from the public on service offerings in hotels, restaurants and resorts. I referred a candidate for a job recently and my client found an adverse comment about him on a travel site. He was asked to explain, and I honestly believe that this comment may have cost him the opportunity.

Once employed an employee’s guard drops and they become “friends” with work colleagues and bosses affording the company  full access to their lives. So that comment about how you hate your job could be career limiting. And the picture you posted of yourself and mates at the rugby on the day you phoned in sick could be problematic. Jokes aside, people are regularly dismissed for gross misconduct on the evidence a boss finds on line.

Facebook, Twitter and all are fantastic opportunities for anyone to see inside an employee’s mind. What they like, interests, who they are friends with, their beliefs. In the old days your work life and social life were kept separate from each other. A conversation around the water cooler would go something like-

Trevor “How was your weekend Klaus?” –

Klaus “ It was Ok, thanks Trev”

That was about the level of intimacy in the 20thcentury office.

Now, it’s quite scary when you find out on Facebook that Klaus, the quiet guy in accounts, is into Norwegian death metal music and the occult. Kind of changes the way you look at him on a Monday morning.

It’s not always the extreme things that are revealing of personality. Some people’s social networks are about as exciting as the 212th photo of Twinkle their Persian cat. Who in their right mind would employ Marius as a chef if his home life is so utterly one dimensional? And if all Jenny can talk about on Twitter is the Esoteric preaching’s of her Guardian Angel, I would rather employ Klaus and put up with mental images of his Leather Clad weekends.

It’s not only the social networks that reveal. It could be that funky e mail address you kept from hotel school days. Now you are applying for jobs it’s time to change. Beermonster234@hotmail.com or Sexypant@gmail.com are no longer necessary and potentially career limiting.

By the way, please never send me emails in SMS speak.  I will ignore u if u eva send da CV 2 me in dat way !!

My advice is – choose a theme for your social networking. Remember that if the wrong messages are career limiting the right professional image is career enhancing. There are many professionals in our industry that use their on-line presence to boost their profile and contribute positively to their jobs.

I try to stick to three basic themes.  Jobs in hospitality with tips and advice, Hospitality breaking news and interesting things I observe around Johannesburg.  Anyone could be reading it so all tweets and status updates must be carefully thought out before publishing. You can make things fun and personal if relevant and of course you can use your personality.

An on line profile is your personal Brand so protect it wisely. Here are 5 things you need to do right now:-

  1. Delete all of those incriminating comments and pictures that you would hate your mother to see.

  2. Your popularity is not based on how many “friends” you have, defriend those you don’t know or don’t want

  3. Delete any comments people leave on your wall that are inappropriate to your personal brand

  4. Google yourself regularly, you may be shocked

  5. Change your profile photo. Profile pictures are of you not your pet or favourite rock band

  6. Protect your social networks if you have something to hide. If you don’t mind them being public remember anyone can stalk you.

If you use a public profile wisely you can promote your personal brand better and attract the attention of potential employers and other opportunities. If you are already happy with your employment your boss will love you if you use your space to positively promote his business.

So think before you tweet ! Big Brother is watching you.

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