If you have a social profile on Facebook and are in the job market, beware…
Unlike Internet giants Google and Amazon who sell books and DVDs or offer money transfer services, Facebook’s business model is all about getting ‘us’ to sign up to use their site. And let’s face it, without ‘us’ they would have no model at all.
In order to survive and prosper, Facebook has to retain existing users and generate new ones, and because of the nature of Facebook, they’re totally reliant on social trends and preferences.
As we all know, trends can and do change with time, so be warned when deciding to make your next career move, because your Facebook profile could thwart your ambitions.
In the USA, social profiles on Facebook are now being used by governmental and non-governmental agencies to make important decisions that may impact on your life.
All kinds of data such as criminal convictions, child custody issues, personal profiles and everyday online material – much of it posted by Facebook users themselves – is now being scrutinised for information that may be detrimental to the owner of the profile.
In recent years, companies like LexiNexis, an online legal research business, have been established with the sole aim of trawling social networking sites for pertinent personal information. And some of these research companies work for clients in the recruitment industry.
In the USA, the Internal Revenue Service trawls MySpace and Facebook, searching for tax evaders, personal income details, and the whereabouts of profile owners, if they’re on the run. Most of us are not evading our tax commitments or are wanted fugitives, however, most of us do apply for jobs.
Results of a recent survey revealed that around three-quarters of all job recruitment companies have rejected applicants based solely on their online personal profiles. The numbers of online research companies are growing exponentially. These companies trawl for data that may be of interest to prospective employers, unhappy spouses, advertisers and other interested parties.
Online users with personal profiles are being stereotyped. For example, if you’re a university graduate, the choice of music you list in your profile could well place you in a demographic that includes recreational drug users.
This information can then be used by recruitment companies or motor and health insurance companies and may lead to you being rejected for a particular job or turned down for some form of insurance.
And since most of these companies don’t have to disclose why they reject an applicant, the real reasons may never be known.
So, be aware of the incriminating trail your Facebook profile may leave and post personal information with great care.
Helen Pritchard writes articles relating to careers and job hunting on behalf of Adria Solutions, in Cheshire.