It seems that everyone from teenagers to top-level executives of multi-million dollar corporations have taken to social networking online. These types of sites have been around for a while now, so it's become common knowledge that you should keep your personal information private for safety reasons.
However, your presence on social networking sites can do more harm to you than just affecting your personal safety - it can damage your job safety as well. Today, many employers use social networking sites to narrow down their pool of applicants. A risqué picture or an inappropriate comment can make the difference between you and someone else being chosen for a job interview, so it's crucial to maintain your online reputation carefully just as you would do with your reputation in the real world. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind regarding using social networking sites wisely.
Privacy in Social Networking
Try to make your profile as private as possible. The less you reveal, the less a hiring manager will have to scrutinize. On some social networking sites, you can actually block your name from searches so that your name won't come up when searched.
On the other hand, you might prefer to give a small hint of information so that friends can verify that you are the classmate they think you are, people with common interests can find you, and potential employers get a glimpse of what you're really like outside of work. This personal touch can help you as long as you keep it simple, neutral, and tasteful.
Trouble Spots in Social Networking
When managing your profiles, take caution with your pictures, comments, and information. Don't post pictures that are risqué or objectionable. You can say that you graduated summa cum laude from your university, but if you post pictures that show you partying or drinking alcohol, it can give people the wrong idea. Your comment wall can also get you in trouble. If anyone leaves you a crude message, this can reflect poorly on you. After all, people are often judged by the company they keep.
Also, keep in mind that friends can tag you in their own pictures, so always keep track of what pictures you're tagged in. These photos can be found in your own photo album, so even if all of your pictures are private, these tagged pictures might still appear. If you want to untag yourself from a photo, simply click on the photo and click on the untag option.
The scrutiny over your social networking profiles might not even end when you get hired for a job. Your current boss could become curious about how you conduct yourself outside work, so always be just as careful with your profiles as you would be during a job hunt.
Since potential employers often use social networking utilities to get a first impression of their candidates, make sure that you put your best face forward with your profile. Check your profile often to make sure that no one has left you any inappropriate comments or tagged you in any questionable pictures. Social networking sites are a great way to keep in touch with friends from your past or family members who live far away, so while they are not entirely bad, you should proceed with caution. Instead of your audience being your friends and family, think of your audience as the entire world, including your potential employers.