Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are incredibly popular among college students. In recent years, however, employers have begun searching prospective employees’ profile pages.
“The latest estimates that I have found show that employers seeking personal information about potential candidates has now reached more than 30 percent,” said David Milford, assistant director of career services.
According to Facebook, there are more than 150 million users on the site. Facebook estimates that nearly half of that number is made up of college students.
Some students don’t think it should matter to future employers what they do in their personal lives. Other students don’t like it, but understand why it occurs.
“I don’t think it is really an employer’s business to care what I do in my spare time,” said Brody McCullough, senior marketing major. “But I guess it’s just a reality so you have to be aware of it and just deal with it.”
Most businesses are interested in learning more about their potential employees because they are investing a lot of time and money into those individuals.
“In my opinion, students are often unaware of the amount of time and money a company must invest in bringing someone onboard,” Milford said. “Some estimates I have seen are in excess of $10,000 investment by the time you include advertising, all the paper work for signing up for insurance, taxes, etc… The point is, once you’re hired, they don’t want you to leave.”
Employers are looking at students’ sites to gain more information on what kind of person they are considering hiring. Some students’ pages contain pictures and videos that would not serve them well to be seen by potential employers.
“If employers are looking at Facebook pages, what impression are you giving?” said Carmen Leeds, associate director of athletics. “I would think you would want that page to reflect a student who uses the page to connect and network with others and stay connected to family, not to brag about how much you can drink and the crazy things you’ve done.”
Student athletes should be particularly aware of possible dangers of inappropriate use of social networking sites. The Emporia State Athletic Department’s student handbook urges students to use good judgment when posting on the internet. There is also potential for punishment if good judgment is not used.
Section 3A in the handbook states that “any depiction or posting of or by a student athlete wherein alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, contraband substance, provocative poses, political rhetoric, profanity, harassment or the facsimile thereof is depicted may result in Departmental disciplinary action.” No age limit is listed for those students over the drinking age.
Students who want to find out how postings on the internet can affect their status in other campus organizations should speak with their sponsors, Leeds said.
There are ways to make social sites appear more professional. Milford suggests several ways to clean up your page.
“My advice would be to post memberships in relevant groups, post your birthday but leave off the year, don’t have 15 albums with 100 pictures in each one, instead have pictures of yourself dressed up,” Milford said. “Avoid pictures of bar scenes and be sure to edit the postings on your wall.”
Another solution that Facebook offers is setting your page settings to private. According to Facebook’s Web site, every user has the ability to customize his or her privacy settings. This allows users to limit who can view their profile to include everyone in their networks, some people in their networks, or only their friends. They can also choose who can see specific parts of their profile like their contact information, their personal favorites and their education and work history.
Most advisers think it is a good idea to set your page to private.
“I think you should keep your site closed and not open to everyone,” Leeds said. “Women in particular need to be careful of this.”
Facebook was created by Mark Zukerberg while he was attending Harvard University in 2004. Users can join networks organized by city, school, workplace and region to connect with other people. There are over 55,000 networks. Facebook reports an average of 250,000 registrations per day since January 2007.
Brett Mize/The Bulletin