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Online Privacy and...

Online Privacy and Reputation in Job Hunting (Part 2)

With much effort being put into a stellar professional public image on LinkedIn, why do some then disregard proper social judgment on FB and Twitter? In just my own FB experience, I have seen some of my old-enough-to-know-better friends post comments with drug references; how much they hate their jobs; how they are playing sick to get out of work today; and funny but not so flattering photos. To meet these people in person, and to know them, you would like them. You would find them to be intelligent, funny, and lovely people. Most of them are professionals and responsible. They are great friends and have nice families. Joining the “I Hate My Job” fan page when your boss is your FB friend might not be too smart—I’m just saying. How many of us realize if you do not set the privacy settings on a fan page application (separate from your wall personal privacy settings) that your fan status is viewable by the public at large? Without the application privacy settings set to a non-public status, a simple Google or Bing search on your name may bring the “I Hate My Job” fan page up for them to consider about you in your public FB profile even if your FB wall settings are set to friends only. (Don’t believe me—check it out.) I’m sure a job interview is being set up for you right now with any HR Manager that saw that fan page associated with your name search—or maybe not. 

And even with online reputation warnings not being new anymore, I still see some of my twenty-something friends post the F-word as their favorite adjective in comments; pictures with the middle finger proudly displayed; and posts admiring porn stars or photos acting like them. Perhaps someone in college studying to be a teacher or who will be trying to get into law school next year might think again about posting drunken photos with friends—funny then, but not so much now. I’ve seen friends post their take home pay online and that they were being sued for past due medical bills. I’m sure a lender looking at them for a loan would have a favorable financial impression of them if they saw those posts—how would an HR Manager view that? Perhaps posting to Twitter what an *** your ex-boyfriend is or that you don’t like something about the conference you just attended for work might be better thought out as clever as it may have seemed at the time. Did you know Twitter posts can up in a name search? We put out information about ourselves every day into the “forever ether” of the Internet many times without much thought. 

In addition, data is being collected about us every day online by the business community. Government sanctioned “public record” data is often available instantly online. As simple examples we may not think that much about, our unlisted phone numbers and our home addresses are no longer hard to find even though we gave no one permission to make them available or are unaware that they are available online. Everything from our email address to our shopping habits are tracked and sold to companies for marketing lists and trend reporting. What is deemed public information via public records kept by federal, state, and local government once required a trip to the agency to request a single copy of the record for an individual to read it. Now, businesses request the complete digitized files from the agency under FOIA laws. Depending on the availability of digitized files or old technology tapes, and the reproduction laws and restrictions of the agency, many businesses use this public information to produce B2B or B2C products. B2C products are also being produced for open viewing by all on the Internet for a fee or not. Most of my executive career has been spent in the information industry, so I am not anti-information products by any means. I know the benefits that information collection and products can bring to the economy and to target marketing. I also know individual privacy protection is something that must be considered and maintained by the individual if it is important to them.

And, in many ways, we are our own worst enemy in preserving our own privacy and reputation. Have you defined what your private information is for yourself? In the Internet and social media era, do you think about preserving your privacy and reputation, and the possible impact on job hunting, before you post, tweet, or connect with a “friend”? Do you think about privacy when storing financial information on a shopping website, opting in or out of receiving additional marketing from company partners, or clicking the box that you have read a company’s privacy policy to continue to use their site without reading it? Do you think through what you are sharing about yourself and with whom? Do you think about the possible consequences of not thinking about it before you post? Do you have a privacy policy and setting plan you thoughtfully execute for your employment potential and life in general?

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