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by SixFigureStart | February 12, 2009


On Tuesday we told you how to Tweet, Friend and Link your way to that new job through social networking sites. While this remains a popular method for growing numbers of job-seekers looking to exhaust all possible avenues for opportunities, there’s another side to social network pages – the employer side. It’s no secret that some employers have turned to Facebook, MySpace and other social networks to find information on potential hires, with various studies suggesting that up to 40% of employers utilize this technique. In fact, our attempts to get Linda to join Facebook eventually turned to this topic, and we all agreed that we'd probably scope out a potential applicant's page in future hiring scenarios. With this in mind, you might think it’s time to clean up your act and start pulling down those raunchy frat party pictures (at least de-tag, people!) in preparation for the critical eyes of potential employers, especially if you’re going to be using your profile as a job search networking tool.

However, just as there are certain questions that employers are prevented from asking you in an interview, there are limits to the information they can gain (and more importantly, how they use that information in their decision process) from Facebook fishing. While there are is no specific prohibition on this technique, there are several pitfalls that employers may encounter when jumping into the Facebook pond. Admittedly, I didn’t even consider the potential drawbacks of this kind of screening from an employer’s perspective – I don’t think any of us in the discussion did. Fortunately, Jackie Ford of MarketWatch has. Ford’s article (here) identifies four of the biggest potential hazards, and advises employers to carefully consider their actions before trolling your profile for incriminating information.

Shockingly, not everything on Facebook is true. It's one thing to rely on information an applicant directly provides to you. It's another thing to rely on information posted by the applicant or others on a website. A Facebook page, like every other public forum, can be the voice of puffery, trickery, and, yes, fakery.

Not everything on Facebook is true? What are you going to tell me next? I shouldn’t use Wikipedia for fact-checking?     

Regardless of whether you’re as upset as I am to learn that not everything on the internet is real, you can take heart in the fact that copious consumption of legal substances among consenting adults is not going to cost you that job, no matter how ridiculous you may look in those pictures you don’t remember posing for. Discretion is probably the wiser route here, but it’s good to know that in a time when anyone with a computer can seemingly find out way too much information about anyone else, you still have some control over the situation. Of course, once you do land that job, well, then you might want to make sure you keep tabs on your profile. Unless you want to join the League of Facebook Fails with this guy.  


--Posted by Steven Schiff, Vault News & Commentary