Once a way to rekindle with long lost friends, keep in touch with current ones, and present your ideas to a wider audience, the online profile is now a way for you to be evaluated by future employers and stalkers.
So, while those pictures of you chugging beers and looking incapable of any type of human function may be entertaining to friends, your boss will probably not be joining in on the laughter, especially if it was on company time.
Companies today are using social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, as a way to monitor current employees and screen future ones. First impressions no longer happen in person, but where everything takes place these days–online.
It’s easy to argue the injustice of it all, proclaiming that your personal life should be kept private — but unfortunately, it’s not. Evidence of reckless, embarrassing, or potentially dangerous actions can lead companies to deem you unsuitable for employment due to potential liability. Companies are concerned with reputation and do not want to be associated with or viewed as endorsing binge drinkers by hiring one.
Yes, I know. College happens, twenty-first birthdays happen, and wild Saturday nights happen too. But, the corporate office is not very accepting of this kind of behavior, especially if you are tweeting about it for your bosses to see. Separate your personal and business life completely by making sure that your online profiles are either private, or workplace-friendly. The profile picture is a dead give-away: make sure yours is appropriate for all types of viewers. Even if you make your profile private, your profile picture is almost always accessible. Make sure that your twitter account is made private; we doubt that you want your superiors showing up at the same rockin’ party as you.
Future careers aside, there are other reasons to keep your online profile private. While benign stalking of your latest crush or hook-up is harmless, real-life stalkers are threats on social networking sites. Be mindful of what contact information you make available to others, and if strangers are friend-requesting or harassing you , make sure to block them to prevent potential harm.
Networking sites have brought us light-years from past decades in terms of communication and personal expression, but there are still cons to making yourself available to the world. Proceed with caution and remember, lock your profile.