Press-Republican

Guest Column

May 6, 2012

Jobseekers should beware social media

Social media. I don't get the fascination, but then I don't have an Internet connection at home, or a television, either.

The whole idea behind social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn is to make it easier for people to stay connected and to share information, photos and videos. It's a worthwhile purpose, but not without some risk; especially if you're a jobseeker.

Every well-informed jobseeker knows that it's common for prospective employers to conduct a Google search as part the hiring process. The employer enters your name into the Google search engine to see what comes up.

Some employers, however, are kicking it up a notch. The most controversial iteration of the Google search is that some employers are now looking at a candidate's social-networking sites. In fact, a relatively new startup has begun offering a service that can be bad news for some jobseekers. According to its website, the company Social Intelligence "runs social media background checks for potential job candidates, so the company can be alerted to potential problems or issues that might be considered contentious."

Others employers go as far as to ask for a candidate's password to the private portions of their social-media sites.

And therein lies the rub.

Where does "public" end and "private" begin? When it comes to social media, the line between public and private information is becoming fuzzier by the day.

According to Mashable founder Peter Cashmore, "Privacy is dead and social media holds the smoking gun."

As stated on its website, Mashable is "the largest independent online news site dedicated to covering digital culture, social media, and technology."

So Cashmore probably knows what he's talking about.

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