Today's Employers Are Googling Employees

Posted on March 18, 2006

Yahoo has an article from Business Week that looks at how employers are Googling employees. One kid actually posted on Facebook that he gets paid for screwing around at work.

Search engines make it possible for employers to scour all manner of digital dirt to vet employees. Online profile company CEO Tim DeMello fired an intern after he discovered that on the intern's Facebook profile he divulged that while at Ziggs he would "spend most of my days screwing around on IM and talking to my friends and getting paid for it."
This excerpt looks at kids posting on MySpace about working at the Gap, Target and Blockbuster.
Schools are warning parents about Google's danger to the MySpace generation, for whom the Internet functions as a virtual diary-meets-barstool confessional. Adolescents try on identities and new behaviors like sweaters. Only now they are trying them on in front of the world. A Pew Research survey found that more than half of all online teenagers are ripping, mixing, and burning their own content, usually placing their creations right alongside their names and photos. The teenagers on the "companies and co-workers" section of MySpace who are talking smack about employers like Blockbuster (BBI), Target (TGT), and Gap (GPS) are clearly unaware of the implications. "People need to realize that this is like putting stuff up on the 6 o'clock news," says employment lawyer Garry G. Mathiason, a partner at San Francisco's Littler Mendelson. "Once you've opened the drapes, people can see everything. They can see your past life."

That's why Dave Fonseca, a senior at the University of Massachusetts, pulled his Facebook profile down in December. "Employers are looking at these things," he says. (It's easy for people to get passwords and noodle around on the site.) Fonseca even knows the verb for people who get fired for what they put on their Web sites: "dooced." The name comes from, the blog of Heather B. Armstrong, who got canned after writing about her job on her blog. Even Friendster, a social networking site that thrives on getting people to reveal everything about themselves, has been insistent on old-school discretion in-house. The company terminated esteemed engineer Joyce Park 18 months ago for mentioning Friendster on her blog, Troutgirl. The rumor on the Web was that the offending entry referred to Friendster's earlier sluggish performance. But the info was already widely known.

Many bloggers are becoming aware of the risks involved with blogging about work but some of the younger MySpace users may be unaware. Many of them have not even had their first job. Employers can easily search the blogosphere and MySpace to learn more about current or potential employees. Today's kids need to understand that what they post online can lead to real-world consequences.

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