The movie “The Social Network” shed a lot of light on the intentions of Facebook: taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online. Mark Zuckerberg knew that college students wanted to be able relive that crazy party that they attended over the weekend at any given time, and Facebook was a tool to let you do just that. Better yet, since Facebook was originally restricted to Harvard-only students, you could do this within the privacy of your personal ‘social network.’ However, the exclusivity that Facebook once thrived on is no more – this is becoming more evident as the internet company has grown into a global powerhouse. What we, as college students, often don’t realize is the wide variety of people that have created accounts – it’s no longer only our peers who are on Facebook. With over 750 million active users there are many potential employers that now have a public window to our once private world.
At our weekly intern meeting, Eric Severson, Pearson’s Senior VP of East Coast Sales for Higher Education, warned us of the repercussions that our online life can have. He put it the best when he said that, “Employees are an investment.”
We often don’t realize the associated costs, in both time and money, in hiring a new employee. When investing in something that can have consequences for years to come, and can cost a lot of money, employers are going to take all factors into consideration – including the way a potential employee presents him or herself to the world via social media.
One may argue (as one of my co-interns did) that it isn’t really fair for employers to look at these private pages. And to that I put forth the question: does it really matter? Aren’t most of us brought up hearing the expression “Life isn’t fair”? Once we get to the critical point of hiring and firing people I believe that we should also take into consideration every resource at our disposal to determine the character of a potential employee, and this is exactly what our employers will be doing by looking at our Facebook profiles.
I caution current and future college students: EVERYTHING you do these days is put under a microscope. Would you really want to lose out on a great opportunity just because there is a picture of you playing a drinking game? I didn’t think so. I strongly encourage every intern, and college student, to take the time to your review your Facebook pages, Twitter posts, and even MySpace photos (if you still have one). Make sure there is nothing that would make an employer throw your application in the garbage. You never know – what you portray on Facebook could drastically change the outcome of your life.