Facebook poses potential threat to future employment
By SARAH SMITH and EMILY MONTGOMERY
As students begin job-hunting in a competitive era of high unemployment and more college graduates, they try to present themselves in the best light possible—high grade point averages, involvement in extracurricular activities and volunteer work.
But what about their personal lives?
Facebook is giving this generation’s prospective employees another way to make or break their careers.
With so much competition, it’s more important than ever for people to be careful with what information they display, according to staffing coordinator Michelle Jones of At Once Staffing, a local employment office.
Jones said this is not a subject they have discussed with clients before but might look into in the future.
“One of our mantras that we tell students is to get rid of their digital dirt,” said Sarah Monroe, associate director for internships at UMW Career Services.
This may not mean deleting their Facebooks, though, she said.
“It kind of depends on the student and what they have on their Facebook,” said Monroe.
A Facebook profile can be a tool that may be used to present the image of its user in a variety of ways, according to senior Linda Heartlein.
“People can sculpt their profiles,” she said. “It can be an asset: these are the interesting things I do. Depending on what your profile looks like, people may want to be evaluated through it.”
For Heartlein, however, Facebook is not a concern: she does not have one.
It was something she tried for about half a year following her freshman year of college, but it just did not appeal to her the way it has to many of her peers.
“I will say the first week or so was very exciting,” Heartlein said. “I didn’t like it. The people I actually enjoyed hearing from I talked to anyway.”
Still Heartlein understands the appeal of Facebook.
“People like to be networked,” she said. “It is a human tendency.”
As the first generation of Facebook users matures, the nature of the site may begin to change from simple social networking site to a venue to broadcast people’s desired images of themselves.
“Especially now this chapter of our lives is coming to a close, a lot of people are going to start thinking about coming off as professional,” Heartlein said.
Geico, one of the leading employers in the area, does not check Facebooks as a part of their hiring process, according to Human Resources representative Tameka Shephard.
Still, job-hunters should not make the assumption that this is true for all of the places they apply and it could be a deciding factor when applicants have similar attributes.
“If [employers] have looked at your resume and cover letter and are debating between candidates, it’s a way to sort of get a face,” Heartlein said.
Senior Josh Vickstrom does not feel the need to delete his Facebook.
“I think that Facebook has privacy settings that can’t be overwritten by an employer,” he said.
He added, though, that if students feel the need to delete their Facebooks it is probably a good idea to.