Really long link to the article on Today
As someone who once walked in the land of cubicles (and worked in communications and marketing), I learned quickly how the online world was encroaching on the way of life we knew in the corporate world offline. It was (and still is for many) a time when companies constantly redefined their social media policies. To paraphrase Maximus from the film Gladiator, what we post online echoes for eternity. But does that mean that your future boss should be reading it? Maybe you just friended someone who will become your boss. In a field like the arts, that is more than possible. Many of my FB friends are theatre contacts. We work together, but one day I might work for one of them or vice versa. So yeah, what I post matters.
As for social profiling, here's what I had to say in response to stephen-3584703's comment, "I stand by my statement. My Facebook presence should never be a factor in my ability to get a professional job. Period."
- It shouldn't, but it does. I agree that if you don't want FB (or Twitter, or Google+, or any the social networking sites) playing a role in future job hunting, then you should either not have it or learn to the privacy setting and not mix business contacts with friend contacts (or just think of Facebook as what it is, a public wall of information upon which you post your thoughts and life for all to see --- even if you've set it to friends only, your friends can share what you say online and off... people still talk to each other). Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you play the game, many employers are starting to check out people's social network footprint when screening applicants. At my last job, my boss admitted to searching for my profiles to see what I was like before my interview. I only had one public profile at the time and was conscientious as to what I posted there for that very reason. She actually told me that if I hadn't been online, she wouldn't have called me in for an interview -- she was looking for people who knew the social media world to help create a presence for her organization online... that wasn't in the job description, it was just planning ahead on her part. There are some who feel this is a violation of privacy, or a mix of professional and private life, but is this so different than new friends, interested romantic partners, or old elementary school friends screening us on the personal side of things. People are curious (especially new employers who are going to see you more hours a week than those friends and family) and in an age of instant information (thank you Google and Wikipedia), why would they wait for the interview to fully judge a person? We're already screened by our resumes and cover letters, not to mention how well we dress at the interview, our height, our handshake, our vernacular, the cadence of our voice, how we interact with the receptionist, etc (I'm not saying this is fair, just pointing out that pre-screening has existed for centuries... it's simply evolving). Whether it is blatant or subtle, employers size us up from the first moment we enter into their awareness. When all else fails, they can call around and try to find out what you're like through references and the word on the street. Resumes have always been that thing that had to be perfect -- but reputation has always been equally important. If reputation comes from how you present yourself and how your peers perceive you, I'd argue that such a thing is no longer limited to the offline world. It doesn't help that more and more people are profiling us through Facebook, etc., after a chance encounter or new friendship blooms. No longer do we need to sit for hours, weeks, months, or years to truly get to know anyone -- we simply become Facebook friends, hit up our timelines, and take in the last few years of another person's life in an afternoon... without them even being there to share it with you. This behavior is simply bleeding over into the professional world as the norms of the offline world create and solidify online counterparts. Technology like Facebook is forever changing how we interact, meet, communicate, and unfortunately, it's also changing how we judge. Honestly, though, if my future boss doesn't like my Facebook profile, then they're probably not going to like me. For the record, my Facebook profile is 90% private, open only to my friends. The other 10% are public posts that are professional in nature and/or link to my twitter account. I don't friend bosses, period, and don't friend co-workers unless I am actually good friend friends with them offline. It's a brave new world for us all and we each have our own ways of navigating it. You're right Stephen, most people aren't aware of how their profiles can affect their offline world -- they should have orientation meetings about it in college (well, high school now... as I expect social profiling to begin playing a role in college admissions in the next decade) -- many do however because whether we like it or not, social profiling is rapidly becoming the way of things.