Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

The potential trap that could be social networking (!), ctd.

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

We all know that everything on the Internets is fair game. It’s becoming more and more common for a potential employer to Google you to see if they can uncover anything (especially something unseemly or unsightly) that didn’t come across in the interview. So it falls on you, the interviewee, to make sure your social networking sites are scrubbed of anything dubious and/or set at the highest levels of privacy.

The anecdotal evidence I’ve heard of employers Googling potential employees is all pretty low key, though—just simple searches that, if they don’t lead to anything juicy right away, are usually over as quickly as they started. If you privatized your Facebook page to keep non-friends out, most employers aren’t going to go the trouble to find a way in. True, I’ve heard stories of more high level trickery, of employers going on the sly and looking for alternate ways into your digital profile (like NFL teams creating fake Facebook profiles in order to research potential draft picks), but I’d never heard of anything like this happening in normal life. Until recently.

A friend of mine was in for a few interviews at a market research firm. After her first interview, she received a Facebook friend request from a person who’s name she knew (a high school classmate, she thought) so she accepted. After visiting her new “friend’s” page, however, she realized that this actually wasn’t the person from high school she thought it was. A little digging and she realized it was a person who worked at the company with which she was interviewing and who happened to have the same name as her high school classmate (an odd coincidence, for sure, though their shared name is quite common). Her new Facebook friend was not someone involved with her interview process and actually worked in a different department in the company. He had, however, gone to the same university as her and thus was a member of that school’s Facebook network. So it became clear that her interviewers had asked their colleague to friend her through their shared alma mater network in the hopes that she would (blindly) accept based on that shared school allegiance.

Once she realized what was going on, my friend did a quick scan of her profile for anything dubious—for the most part everything was fine, she thought (a normal, active Facebook page). She figured she was good to go.

Her next thought, though, was, “Maybe I should scrub my page of everything, just to be sure.” But she concluded this wasn’t necessarily a good idea either: “I don’t want to seem too protective or not social,” she said. “It’s a weird line to walk.” A very interesting point. While we don’t want anything embarrassing or disreputable on our Facebook pages for potential employers to see, an argument can also be made that we should strive to seem “normally active” on our pages. What I mean is: as a younger, networked generation moves into positions of greater responsibility, and thus become the ones hiring, it might become important to ensure your Facebook page looks like a “normally active” one—as in, you are active on your page but not obsessively active; you have the typical playful Facebook banter on your wall but nothing too playful (or offensive or odd); you’ve posted some social-looking photos but none showing you passed out in a gutter. It will perhaps become important to think about not just what your Facebook page doesn’t contain, but what it does as well.

As my friend mentioned, Facebook is no longer just a time suck between friends—now it’s also both a public indication of who you are in your personal life and a self-marketing tool, if you want it to be. So while I would say it’s far better to completely hide your Facebook page from the world than give your employers access to embarassing information, it might also be worth considering how you can use your Facebook page to your advantage.

The potential trap that could be social networking (!)

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

News out of Yahoo Sports: one NFL team is friending potential draft picks on Facebook and MySpace with fake profiles of alluring women. The idea behind this “Trojan horse” is to unlock “a door to a world of Internet pictures and information which most NFL teams are now consistently compiling to help polish their dossiers on draft picks.” As a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that has had somewhere in the range of 10-15 players get arrested in the past few years, I can understand why teams might want to know if a potential player is a liability.

While I’ve never heard of an employer luring a potential employee into a Facebook trap like this (seems pretty dubious and underhanded, though I guess there’s nothing illegal about it), it’s fairly common knowledge that employers often do Google candidates and check Facebook/MySpace pages, so always be mindful of how you are presenting yourself in the social networking world. You don’t ever want something you figured only your friends would see to come back and haunt you, like it did for this Twitter user.


Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Geoff Gloeckler, staff editor at BusinessWeek and regular supplier of material for this blog, passed along an article on the new professional social networking and job search site, MyWorkster. At first glance, it seems like a university-centered version of the already-entrenched

A professional networking site that connects students with alumni and allows members to search for contacts in their field who can give them an advantage over the competition.

However, this site offers something LinkedIn does not: job listings. My judgment is pending until I can set up an account and poke around a bit, which I’ll hopefully be able to do in the semi-near future. In the meantime, anyone already use MyWorkster? Give us your reviews if you do.

[And a question to throw out there: how much do users value job listings as part of a professional social networking site? The idea of networking, of course, is that it can eventually lead to finding out about job openings and then, ideally, finding a job. But the intrinsic purpose of networking is not to be trolling for job openings---rather it's to be trolling for connections. If a connection is made that leads to finding out about a job opening (and then even a job), that is terrific. But in fact if you only try to connect with folks who you perceive will be able to get you a job, rather than engaging those people with whom you share common interest and passion, then you're probably not going to be a successful networkers (people can smell bald self-interest from across the room, or across the internets, as the case may be).

So if networking is not primarily about locating job openings, but rather locating contacts, is it necessary to have job openings as part of a social networking site? On the other hand, networking and job searching can and should be done simultaneously, so if your social networking site is also your job search engine, does that just combine everything you need into one and make your life that much easier? I'd be interested to hear people's takes, based either on experience using social networking sites/job search engines or just complete conjecture. I'll accept both.]