Pictures in the social media. Can they ruin you or find you a better job? This is still an open question.

A few months ago I had a pretty heated discussion with my colleagues about social media and networking profiles of candidates. Some said that they will check Facebook profiles of candidates and if they see something they don’t like they will not contact the candidate. Further, some colleagues went on to say that candidates should not include pictures from parties, evenings out at a bar and high school reunions.

What would bother me in a Facebook profile if I were to check them? Hmm… Mentioning work and employer, whether past or present, in a negative light, excessive posts during work hours, or, in fact, any posts not related to work during work hours, gossip about others. Am I bothered by occasional party pictures? Not so much; especially if the profile indicates that it was created purely for socializing with friends, not for professional purposes.

I think people will always be people, and everyone is allowed to have fun. Yes, posting a picture of yourself doing vodka shots with class of 1988 is not professional, but if it’s not in the office and outside work hours, I don’t think it’s any of my business.

LinkedIn is a different story. I see as a professional communication tool more than a social media site, and I always cringe when I see someone’s profile embellished with a picture in a gym wearing a bikini. Or sunbathing. Or drinking. Cartoon characters look strange too. Yes, I dig Totoro, but on a professional profile? Really?

Workopolis surveyed 300 Canadian employers, and found out that 63% of respondents do check candidate’s online presence and can make a hiring decision based on that (http://careers.workopolis.com/advice/survey-how-employers-look-you-up-and-why-your-online-presence-really-matters/).

I think that all of us, including candidates, are still entitled to privacy, so I would just lock anything you don’t want the world to see, and whatever is open – just make it look professional.

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