Social media tools: Benefit or bust for job seekers?

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Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are becoming more and more popular. With the increase in use comes an increase in having your words examined by more than just your friends. Your boss or potential employer may be viewing your thoughts as well, so beware.

A recent story outlined how a job applicant basically Twittered themselves out of a potential job offer with Cisco. Here’s what Twitter user “theconnor” shared with the world:

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

Wow, what a loaded statement, and how ignorant to assume that Cisco wouldn’t be web-savvy enough to utilize Twitter. Tim Levad, a Cisco employee, caught wind of the post and and retorted with the following:

“Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”

To be fair, the Twitter user is a college student, and the position was really just a summer internship that they hadn’t actually applied for, but was sent to through some college recruitment program snafu, at least according to their side of the story.

Still, the incident created a firestorm across the web and Twitter-verse. Of course, Twitter is not the only social media tool that can cost you a job. There’s also the chance of being Facebook fired. While on Facebook there are more levels of privacy available than on Twitter, there are still people who have posted inappropriate comments or photos of themselves in compromising positions that have led to their termination.

So job seekers in today’s world are being told to utilize social media tools in order to network more efficiently. Yet those same tools have caused some people to lose their jobs. If you are currently on the job hunt, are you worried about your use of social media tools? Would you allow your boss to be a Facebook friend? How much do you think employers should rely on the personal postings of potential job applicants or employees when it comes to hiring and firing?

27 comments Add your comment

dw

March 26th, 2009
11:14 am

I think as long as you use your personal computer to update these sites then its none of your job’s business. They want you to leave your personal life out of the workplace so they should stay out of your persoanl life as well. First!

Name (required)

March 26th, 2009
11:19 am

This is what happens when people think that the world cares about every thought in their head. And yeah, I realize the hypocrisy of saying that here :)

GWB

March 26th, 2009
11:34 am

Anyone that uses these “social networking” sites are idiots. What is the compulsion to have your stuff in front of the entire universe?

Jason

March 26th, 2009
11:45 am

Shaye

March 26th, 2009
11:47 am

Regardless of how stupid or compromising comments, pictures, etc., that are posted on the Internet may be, if it doesn’t affect an applican’t ability to do the job, employers are opening themselves up for all kinds of legal trouble. So… to answer the last question: zero.

That said, arguments can be made that a potential employee lacks good judgment, and I don’t see how anyone with half a brain can argue with that for some of these geniuses. It will be interesting to see some legal precedents established as it relates to social media, etc.

Soulfinger

March 26th, 2009
11:53 am

GWB..didnt you just do exactly that??

AFAN

March 26th, 2009
11:56 am

Employers can and should go to great lengths to find out about the character of a potential employee…If a company is going to invest time, money and resources into the hiring of a NEW employee then that potential employee should expect to be analyzed with as much technology as available (Cisco probably has some)…and frankly, I think Twitter, Facebook and MySpace are an enormous waste of time…if you want to spend 3 hours at night updating your profile and telling the world that you just ordered a Pizza then go ahead…the economy is in the crapper and customer service is still at an all-time low…I can’t believe the number of people that walk around their job texting and talking and surfing.

JAYB

March 26th, 2009
12:03 pm

GWB….I believe this counts as a “social network” and I believe you just threw your thoughts out to the “entire universe.” Therefore, you just termed yourself as one of the many idiots. Careful what you say, may come back to bite ya!

Kiddo

March 26th, 2009
12:09 pm

Who cares what you say about your job…it’s just venting. This is why I like Myspace, you can set your profile to PRIVATE. People take things way to seriously.

BAC

March 26th, 2009
12:18 pm

how are you supposed to avoid being friends with your boss if she or he asks?

BAC

March 26th, 2009
12:19 pm

chiming in, piling on GWB :) I guess if you are an idiot, you don’t realize it :)

JJ

March 26th, 2009
12:37 pm

What is twitter? Even my high schoolers don’t know……

shaggy

March 26th, 2009
1:14 pm

Someone this stupid needs to go play in a busy road and remove the bad genes.

Brooke

March 26th, 2009
1:42 pm

Can you twitter your way out of a speeding tix…when that happens facebook, myspace, twitter, text or use the old fashion way and call me!

nik

March 26th, 2009
1:45 pm

twitter is the best! i love it

momtoAlex&Max

March 26th, 2009
1:46 pm

That’s why I set my Facebook page private. No one can see but my friends. And I’d NEVER be friends with anyone that I work with or for. That’s just stupid. Also my FB is set to First Name Maiden Name Married Name. Professionaly, no one knows my maiden name, so they still probably couldn’t find me.

TO BAC: if your boss sends u a friend request, just ignore it…they won’t send him/her a notice that you did it. If he/she asks about it, just “Oh sorry, I’m not on {whatever social media} all that often, I haven’t seen it”

Kar

March 26th, 2009
1:47 pm

There’s probably a code of conduct clause or some sort of privacy rules that they’re using to prune out the idiots who don’t know how to use some discretion.

LeLe

March 26th, 2009
2:47 pm

Hi momtoAlex&Max… people in FB can search on just your first name + married name, so they could still find you without knowing your maiden name. Go try searching on yourself without your maiden name and you will see. Just wanted to warn you if you thought you were protected from being found by coworkers. Granted, if you are set to friends only, at least they won’t be able to see your pages. I agree, not smart to allow colleagues as friends unless you plan to not make any embarrassing or unprofessional statements. I would recommend using FB “lists” function for anyone who wants to segregate what certain segments of your friends list can see.

Sarah

March 26th, 2009
2:51 pm

Too bad hand-held device addicts can’t twitter themselves out of this universe. Go to any place and observe people; who appears…at least ostensibly, to have the most gray matter: A person sitting and looking at their hand-held device or a person reading a book. I’m not saying the hand-held divice addict doesn’t have gray matter, it’s usually in the form of yesterdays underwear and not in the skull. The blank look on some faces this posting surely evokes is funny to me.

Jesse

March 26th, 2009
2:54 pm

Twitter can be a benefit for job seekers if used correctly – but one needs to realize that a tweet can be seen by anyone (including potential and former employers). People do not have to use twitter, but if you wish to do so, then you need to understand what the ramifications might be. This person should be happy that he got a job offer at all (or internship) – especially with a company like Cisco – the answer to his question is easy – suck it up for the summer, commute and do the work that you may not like to get the experience. It is a great resume builder with a great company. Summertime isn’t that long, and there will be more of them in the future. And for people that have questions like this – think about how the question looks to an outside observer. If you wouldn’t ask it directly of the employer – then don’t tweet it either. If you can’t handle that, don’t use twitter – stick to facebook and use the privacy options. As for Cisco, or any other company – they have every right to check twitter or other social network sites. It is a large investment to hire someone whether the company is large or small and they want to minimize their mistakes. It is up to you to make sure that your online brand is representing what you think it should. Now it’s time for me to get back to job seeking.

Shameka

March 26th, 2009
2:56 pm

Make your profile private and only allow close friends access to your information. That way you can say whatever you like.

Judi

March 26th, 2009
4:28 pm

It amazes me the things people will post on the internet as if nobody can see them – or only the people they’re posting to.
The internet is WIDE OPEN, people. Joe Schmoe in AnyCountry is sitting in his bedroom reading your words and viewing your thong!
Now, I realize for some people, this is a “thrill”, but when it comes to presenting yourself favorably to the right people, your public internet activities will speak loudest.
I do nothing on the internet that will embarass me or my mother.

momtoAlex&Max

March 26th, 2009
5:16 pm

To LeLe: they might be able to find me, but they can see nothing. I have tested this with my husband’s account before he was my “friend” (ha ha) in FB and no one that is not on my friend’s list can see anything of mine.

Jason

March 26th, 2009
5:36 pm

This is definitely happening. I have had department managers ask for temporary access to facebook and myspace so they can check people out before hiring them.

Sarah

March 28th, 2009
11:13 pm

Be advised actually, even if you have your profiles set to private, there are programs that can get around that and look at your profiles anyways. I don’t know how common this is, but I do know that some colleges are using them to check up on their athletes, and it could very well be used by employers as well.

DecaturCyn

March 30th, 2009
7:21 pm

Through Facebook, I’ve reestablished contact with long-lost cousins, rekindled friendships with college classmates, and gotten to know nice people who would otherwise simply be passing acquaintances. It’s been a terrific way to connect. And yes, I have colleagues in my friends list, too. It’s really perfectly benign as long as you never write anything that you wouldn’t mind posting on a billboard.

DecaturCyn

March 30th, 2009
7:27 pm

I scrambled that comment a bit. It should have read … “as long as you only write comments that you wouldn’t mind posting on a billboard.”