Social Media Screens Prospective Employees & Clients
Be careful what you tweet, Flikr, YouTube and update - less you want to reduce your chances of getting hired or landing your next client. Social media is now officially the extension of one's resume. It adds another layer for discovery by prospective employers and companies. After all, who knows you better than your social networks?
Resumes use to be one to two pages of succinct facts about our professional accomplishments and employment record. "I personally think we're moving away from the one-page résumé," explains CEO Max Drucker. "I think we're moving toward where your online history is your résumé."
With unemployment at an all-time high and the planet wobbling a little off-axis after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, its seems like our lives are up for greater public scrutiny than ever before. It was bad enough when we learned our credit scores were freely available to anyone - but now that social networks like Facebook has made over lives figuratively and literally an OPEN BOOK, it appears there is no longer anyplace to hide.
Austin Carr in a Fast Company analysis reported that "employers are on longer just searching Google for information on applicants - they're commissioning companies to do professional social media background checks." To that point, a Proofpoint study indicated that 8 percent of companies have already fired "social media miscreants."
The study also uncovered the following infractions:
- 17 percent disciplined an employee for violating blog or message board policies
- 15 percent have disciplined an employee for violating multimedia sharing / posting policies
- 13 percent of US companies investigated an exposure event involving mobile or Web-based short message services
Paranoia of 'Big Brother Watching' is also felt in the entrepreneurial world. SMBs that are looking to keep their head above water are even afraid to hit a LIKE button on Facebook in fear that the fan page they attached to their profile might be viewed in a negative light by a prospective client. Just this week. the owner of a small online gift shop feared that "liking" the Facebook page for my latest graphic novel, "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks" would be turn-off for her customer base. In her words, "when I like something that might be perceived as offensive, I'm at risk of losing prospective clients who review my preferences on Facebook." In this instance, if a client was to choose whether or not do business with someone based on what they're reading, I would have my doubts about working with such a client. But heck, that's just me - and I'm just trying to sell books!
Are these developments, an invasion of privacy - when you can't even erase a Google search associating you with some youthful transgression, or when someone has tagged a photo of you with a limited amount of clothing or videotaped you in activities that should have been kept off the record? Of course, it is. But's it's also the life we've signed up for. Like politicians and celebrities, there is very little left in our private lives that cannot be obtained and used for ulterior motives against us because of the choices we made when we joined the social media ranks.
However, the converse is also true. For those that do good works, follow the golden rule and dot their "i's" and cross their "t's" - you might also get some digital karma points for this as well. However, those activities are less often scrutinized or applauded - as the "schadenfreude" in all us likes to find, dissect and savor every chink in the armor of others. One of our guilty pleasures is buidling ourselves up in contrast to the misfortunes of others - and fortunately - or unfortunately that's a result of divesting bits of our lives across the social media landscape.
The only lesson to be learned from this paradigm shift is limiting the amount of digital breadcrumbs we leave along the way. And if we are unsuccessful in covering those tracks, at least we'll know we have to come up with a good spin as to why they existed in the first place!
Ironically, this past week even the CEO of the largest social network in the land could not escape his past. With his unfortunate words documented in IM communiques and business betrayals now firmly attached to Facebook's historical origins as documented in books and a soon-to-be-released movie, his PR machine went into overdrive to develop a positive PR spin.
In a philanthropic gesture he donated a $100 million to the Newark, New Jersey school district, in hopes it would offset his online self-serving persona. Looking even more like a "good guy", it was leaked by Oprah Winfrey that he was talked out of "going anonymous" with his grand gesture, even though many would perceive it as a timely ulterior motive to counter the NYC and LA movie premieres of The Social Network held on the same day as his announcement.
If Mark Zuckerberg is having a hard time quieting the echos reverberating throughout the halls of the social media chambers, then I guess we all get what we deserve - Open Graph and all!