A recent AP Newswire story tells the tale of one Justin Bassett who was asked by a hiring manager for his user name on Facebook. When she opened the site and saw that his profile was private, she asked him for his password. Bassett refused and withdrew his application, stating that he didn’t want to work for a company that would ask for such personal information.
Apparently this is all too common. Simply doing a search for a social media mention or profile isn’t enough, some companies want to look into your personal posts as well. Even if they don’t ask for your password you can bet an HR person will have googled you and viewed your profiles on Linkedin,Twitter, Facebook and Google+ at the very least. Sometimes they require you to log in during your interview so they can see your profile and be sure you aren’t a hazard to the corporate reputation or a spy for competitors.
Some companies are a bit sneakier than others. Sears for example “allows” job applicants to log into their jobs page with Facebook, Myspace or Linkedin, just to make it convenient for you. Isn’t that nice?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Privacy online is a myth. If you want something to be private, don’t put it online in the first place.
The problem with that model is; you aren’t the only one who might be posting information about you online. Maybe it’s a mention of a great weekend away on a blog, photos on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr, a video on youtube of you being silly. All of these things can easily be taken out of context if it suits the goals of the viewer.
So what to do?
Fake profiles have been used to harass and defame the real account holder many, many times. Check for identity theft on a regular basis. You can even sign up for regular monitoring from sites like Reputation.com
Search for yourself, not just on Google but on Bing and popular social sites. Not everyone uses the most popular sites and there may be information buried out there.
Keep your profiles active and up to date. You want people to find YOU when they do a search, not some lame broken profile or a fake one set up to mock you.
Untag photos on Facebook. Scan tags on popular sites frequently to see what has been tagged with your name.
Download Outspoken Media’s Online Reputation Management Guide for more tips and tricks to keep your reputation squeaky clean.
Personally i think it’s reprehensible for a potential employer to ask for your password or even to ask you to log into a social profile in their presence. But that’s why I am a happily self-employed entrepreneur!
Have you read my book yet? “Social Media Success! – Practical advice and real-world examples for social media” is available on Amazon