We all know that when preparing an application for a job we have to do our best to come off as professional and mature as possible. We write down all of our past successes and carefully avoid saying anything that would make us sound like a fun loving, alcohol drinking, good-time-having young adult. At the interview for said job, we dress nice, speak politely and shake hands, letting only our most professional words slip out through the clenched teeth of our most personable smile.
What if, though, after all of these formalities and preparations, our party-time unprofessional selves are leaked to the interviewer in another way? According to the article “Job Applicant, Beware: You’re Being Googled,” written by by Allan Hoffman of Monster.com ,our secret (but not-so-private) lives may be being searched for by employers online.
According to Hoffman, “It’s not just what you say that can be held against you when you’re looking for a job. It’s also what you post on MySpace, write in your blog and broadcast on YouTube.” The article explains that up to 77 percent of employers are researching job candidates online, and up to 35 percent of them have found information that made their applicants unworthy of employment.
The article also tells us that it may not be beneficial for employers to spend a lot of time researching candidates’ past online, stating “If they do, the thinking goes, they will miss out on top-notch employees, given that just about everyone will have some incriminating information online.”
It seems very probable that we have all posted something not-safe-for-work online. With our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress) being a part of our personal lives, shouldn’t it stand to reason that we have personal posts on them? Well, no.
Anyone who has been alive in the internet era for longer that 10 years is aware that information that is posted online, no matter where, can end up available to anyone who wants it bad enough. The internet is still new enough that privacy laws and enforcement for them are weak at best, and nothing online is truly secure. Most of us are aware of this fact, and when we prepare to enter the professional world, we delete any information that may be considered unprofessional.
This being true, it seems that only those deserving of being overlooked for employment are the one’s who do not follow this rule, and are therefore immature and not ready for the working world. However, the issue may not always be that someone is posting unprofessional things online who doesn’t realize that employers can see it. The issue may be a question of what is inappropriate and what isn’t.
In the above video, brought to you by Myfoxorlando.com, we hear the story of Johnny Cook, a bus driver that wrote an angry Facebook post about the school he works for. Typically, it would seem obvious that writing angry rantings about your place of employment should get you fired.
However, Cook was angry because he believed the school was mistreating students by not allowing them lunch if their lunch-accounts were empty. Cook then valiantly posted his phone number and offered to pay for any student’s lunch that needed it again, making him an internet hero.
Cook was fired for his post, and the internet community got angry. According to the online article, the story spread around Facebook and support grew for Cook. Even though the Superintendent of the school was quoted as saying “In talking with the middle school principal and the cafeteria manager, that just did not happen,” about students being refused lunch, many believe that Cook did the right thing based on the information he had at the time.
In this grey-area example, it is obvious that Cook was standing up for something he believed in strong enough to risk losing his job. However, if he wishes to be employed in the future, it is becoming more and more probable that this story will be Googled by employers, and may cost him even more jobs.
We cannot change the way employers research their job applicants. They have every right to discover as much as they can about the people they may be hiring, and there is no law to stop them from using the internet to do so.
Although everyone has their own dirt in their private lives, and everyone puts on a mask in their professional lives, we have no choice but to keep our online selves professional if we want to find employment.