Anonymity does not exist on the internet. Search hard enough, search long enough and what you seek will be found.
Because everything you ever put up on the internet, at whatever time you put it up and wherever you put it up. . . It’s all still out there for anyone with a little diligence to find. No matter how stupid. No matter how embarrassing. It’s all still there.
Which is bad enough when you find a picture of your little dude or little dudette acting like an idiot, but it’s even worse when your cherished child tries to get hired for a job and has to explain away a series of pictures of him smashed out of his gourd on questionable substances and then bragging about it to all his friends.
Let me give you dudes a little example. Zippy the College Boy had been taking to venting to his Facebook friends whenever he was upset with his mom or me. At one point, he’d even told one of us to. . . well, let’s just say it wasn’t nice. Eventually, he apologized for “saying” that, but not for the forum in which he expressed his anger-fueled views.
And that’s the problem. Then, he didn’t see that what he said in anger on a public forum could ever come back to haunt him. At which point, I asked him how he would explain this certain passage to a future employer.
“Oh, please,” he scoffed. “They’d never find it. I mean, do you know how many (Zippy the College Boy’s) there are out there?” (At this moment, I should probably state for the record that Zippy the College Boy is not his real name. I know. Bit of a shocker, but there it is. During this conversation, he used his real name, which is a bit more generic.)
He actually thought there was safety in numbers, but he forgot one important detail. When he is applying for a job, when anyone is applying for a job, the prospective employer will be requiring important personal details like birthdate, place of birth, social security number, etc. etc. With all that info, it’s an absolute snap to find the right you and see all you’ve been dumb enough to post to public and whoops-I-thought-those-were-private fora throughout the years.
Think before you post, especially if you’re looking for a job. Seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Yet despite all the advice and warnings to be cautious with social media, job applicants continue to get burned by their online profiles.
Many companies now search candidates’ social-media accounts to get a better feel for their personalities, to see if they have creative flair, and to find out how well they communicate.
Vanessa Wong, from Bloomberg Businessweek, posted a great column on this a while back. She talked about a recent survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers. According to the survey, about one-fifth of the respondents said the applicant’s social history actually helped them to get a job.
More often, though, it backfires: 43 percent said they found information that led them not to hire a candidate, up 9 percentage points from last year. That trend means either that more job applicants are behaving badly online or that human resources is getting stricter in sniffing out problems.
Among the problems these hiring managers mentioned: racy photos, boozing photos, horribly written posts, intolerance, evidence that shows the applicant was lying about qualifications, and crazed ranting (hello, Zippy the College Boy!).
They’re all bad news when you’re looking to be hired, but that last one. . . Hoo, boy. Imagine you go off on your current boss on Facebook or Twitter. And then your next prospective employer reads about it. Do you think she’s going to want to hire someone who takes such savage glee in roasting an employer? Most likely not, yo.
Parents, don’t panic. This simply is another part of the online privacy conversation we talked about yesterday.
We’ll talk more about that not-panicking thing on Monday.