Here’s a disturbing little tidbit: a cyber-safety survey conducted by Telstra showed that 25% of employers check social networking accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in particular) before making a decision on hiring. About 50% of them said that what they saw on the net caused them to forego some candidates.
Is it even fair for them to make a judgment call based on what they see online? Well, people have varying opinions about the matter. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s fair or not; bosses are already doing it and you’d do well to prepare accordingly.
Of course, this isn’t a new discovery at all. Surveys conducted in different parts of the globe have already presented similar results. It’s not even a secret anymore that employers turn to Facebook and Twitter for a more in depth kind of screening. “Watch what you say on Facebook” is a piece of advice that’s beginning to get old and people are beginning to tire of hearing it over and over again. However, it’s also a piece of advice that all people should take to heart – not just students, not just job seekers, but also those who are happily employed.
Why? Well, let me present you with another disturbing takeaway from the survey: 20% of Australian bosses use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to monitor their employees. In fact, they send friend requests to their employees with the intention of checking whether or not these employees are badmouthing them or the company. They also use Facebook to monitor whether or not their employees are online during work hours.
So, if your boss’ name is right there on your friends list, don’t expect that it is purely for a social call. In fact, don’t be too flattered if he or she sends a friend request to you in the first place. Chances are they are only there to monitor your actions. After all, your boss is still your boss, even on Facebook. It would be best if you keep your profile as clean as possible, and even use Facebook lists and other privacy settings to limit the information they can access. Also, if you have a problem with your boss or workplace, never post it online. If it’s serious, discuss it with your boss personally and with an air of professionalism – who knows, he might even respect you more for it.