Just as it is important to Google-search prospective and present employees, it is also a good idea to identify their Facebook and MySpace presence and usage.
A large percentage of individuals belong to both of these social networks, and viewing how they portray themselves online is a very easy and telling method to find out whether someone may be right for your company.
What to Look For
Even if you are not "friends" with one of your employees on Facebook and MySpace, you will most likely be able to view their main photographs (this does not apply when they have their settings on "private," which then makes it impossible to search for them).
Look at how they represent themselves; for example, if they chose to display photographs of themselves drinking and partying, realize that it could eventually reflect upon your company. Decide how you want your employees portrayed to the general public.
How Many People Actually Use Facebook and MySpace?
Facebook has more than 70 million users worldwide. The 100-millionth registered MySpace account was created in 2006, and more than 230,000 users register per day. There is a good possibility your future employee operates one of these accounts, but it is not necessary to ask them whether or not they are registered. Their private life is private, and if they insist on posting questionable photographs, they should at least be wise enough to conceal their profile to the general public. If you can find their profile, so can any other user on the Internet.
What if the Prospective Employee Seems Cut Out For the Job?
If your prospective employee does very well in an interview and seems perfect for the job, it may be a dilemma to reject them solely based on negative personal online content. In order to ensure they are serious about the job, kindly ask them to remove their picture or replace it with a more professional alternative. Clearly explain your reasons for asking this. If the prospective employee has no problem removing a certain picture, they are most likely serious about getting a position with your company.
Is this a Violation of Privacy?
Since your employees are making the decision to post questionable photographs on these Web sites, they are allowing the public to view them. Anybody has access to the photos. About 30 percent of employers, in fact, search for their applicants on both of these social networks. As the popularity of such sites continues to grow, it is likely this statistic will as well. It should be clear what types of photographs cross boundaries, and it is important for you to make the right decisions about who you want to represent your company.