Dangers of Social Networking.
However, few of them consider the risks that these sites could pose to potential jobs.
According to a survey commissioned by the Information Commissioner’s Office, almost 60% of those questioned did not realise that the information could remain online and thus be viewed in the future.
Even in the present, however, social networking sites can be seen as a possible pitfall for job seekers.
Potential employers looking to fill any reasonably important position will wish to conduct some background research on their applicants.
Employers can be nervous about hiring unknown staff and will welcome any innovation that makes their choice easier.
By viewing an applicant’s social networking profile they can presented with a candid and unedited portrayal of a person, rather than merely the censured version presented by references and other traditional sources.
This can be seen as a positive step for the applicant, as a Facebook page that depicts a sober, hard-working and enthusiastic person can only aid in a job application.
However, the vast majority of Facebook profiles will show no such thing.
Everyone acts differently amongst their friends then with bosses or colleagues.
The vast majority of Facebook profiles will show their creator either drunk, naked, unconscious, rude, crude, or felonious.
Whether these are isolated incidents or examples of an overly hedonistic life, they present a poor image of a person and so would likely deter potential employers from hiring them.
Facebook and other social networking sites can therefore be seen as presenting a falsely balanced view of a person as they only represent how the person acts with their friends, in company they feel comfortable with.
An applicant could be highly professional and perfect for a position; one stupid decision recorded on Facebook could prevent them from getting the job.
One often-unforeseen danger of social networking sites is where the information ends up.
A name or photo from Facebook can be taken and used again and again, on any number of websites.
One example of the chaotic results that can ensue from such actions is a risqué photo put up on Facebook.
If the photo were a one-off it would most likely be viewed as embarrassing rather than employment harming.
However, should an annoyed friend or jilted lover take the photograph and name, and place it on a variety of less savoury websites, then a quick Google search may present false and negative depiction.
Even a cursory search of the Internet provides a plethora of stories centred on the dangers of social networking sites.
One of the more interesting comes from an article from Medscape, a site for medical students.
The article makes the point that a medical student especially must be careful what information appears online about them.
With the amount of patients they will treat in their career the likelihood is that they will be researched online.
Thus the importance of a medical student maintaining at least the illusion of a clean and sober social life is key, both to reassure patients and to persuade hospital bosses that they are a good choice for often over-subscribed positions.
The question of whether employers are right to be using social networking sites in this way is a thorny one.
Facebook’s Terms and Conditions specify that the service is to be used solely for ‘personal, non-commercial use only’.
Whilst no one would dare to claim that recruiters using it stick to these rules, the inability to regulate them means that they can continue to do so.
Furthermore, any company would wish for their employees to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Should they be content for sordid episodes of their social life to be on display to the watching world then they demonstrate the poor judgement that no company would wish their workers to possess.
Thus Facebook can be seen as more of an unofficial test for any job applicant.
Considering how costly a bad hire can prove to an employer, can they be blamed for wishing to cover themselves as much as possible?
Whilst it can be seen as distasteful for an employer to use Facebook to examine prospective employees, reality will always triumph over morality in the modern world.