Applicant Mistakes with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace

In the past mistakes with technology were limited to things like pressing “reply all” instead of “forward” and mistakenly sending personal messages to more than the intended recipient. Today, with people sharing everything from what they ordered as their morning coffee to how their date went last night, it is much easier to have the wrong information arrive in the hands of a potential or current boss.

I recently read an article about a job applicant who completed a first interview at a major corporation. She left the meeting and proceeded to post a response on Twitter that essentially explained that although a job offer was expected she would really have to evaluate whether she would want to take a job where she hated the work (and listed the company name). An employee of the corporation read her “Tweet” and proceeded to not only investigate who the hiring manager was, but posted the candidate’s personal information on the web for all to see. One innocent “Tweet” and in an economy where all opportunities should be cherished, those who are well versed in the web essentially black balled the candidate.

Another story of interest: many of you have probably seen the You Tube video of David – the boy who went to the dentist and woke up under some serious medication. His father taped the boy in order to show his mother who could not be there, and eventually decided to post the video on You Tube for a few other family members to view. Never having used the site before, they did not click the correct options and allowed anyone who had an interest to see the video. Who knew poor David would be viral sensation? With millions of hits and plenty of parenting groups involved, a somewhat innocent video has caused an investigation and a lot of unwanted attention.

People’s personal lives now seem to be on display in a way that they never have before. Along with this open forum, many corporations have shared that they now make a routine check of sites like Twitter, Facebook and My Space as a part of the screening process – from those applying to college, to those applying for a promotion, what you post can be an important factor in the total package of who an organization selects.

I am not suggesting that you don’t participate in the streaming technology of the present and have stuck my little toe into the pool with LinkedIn and a new Twitter account. However, I strongly caution those participating to heed the advice of my mother and remember “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. On top of that age old wisdom, I would suggest that you double check the privacy settings on all of your accounts – if not properly set, anyone can see your post and those of your friends. Try to look at your accounts with fresh eyes and ask yourself if you were applying for a job, would you hire yourself as you are represented on the site?

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