Friday, December 01, 2006

Freedom of expression can get you canned

As I was just about to delete an email I received from MonsterTrak.com, I saw the heading “Keep your E-Image Clean.” So, I kept reading, and found that my paranoia about employers checking me out online was justified. MonsterTrak gives examples of people who had supposedly been sabotaged by their secret online lives:

A chemical engineering student at a university in the Northeast was eliminated from consideration for a job opening after a company recruiter Googled the student's name, discovering, among other things, that he liked to blow things up.

A student at a school in the Southeastern US was being courted by a small business owner for a key position -- that was until the owner saw the student's Facebook profile, which featured explicit photos and stories about the student's drinking and pot smoking.

A recent graduate of a small upper Midwest university was only a few weeks into her first postgraduation job when the boss called her into his office. He had discovered the young woman's personal blog, where she had been writing in detail about how miserable she was in her new position. She soon became a former employee.
MonsterTrak’s Career Coach, Peter Vogt, suggests that if you think you have potentially damaging materials on let’s say MySpace or Facebook, to take them off. He also said you should check the written content in your blog, making sure it is appropriate for professional eyes.

What if an employer reads a potential employee's blog and finds that their opinions differ from their own? How can that person know why they weren’t hired? Should people now censor everything they put online, making sure it doesn’t “offend” anyone? The line seems a bit blurry here.

2 Comments:

Blogger J said...

Ive been called paranoid before, but it is because of this very subject that I choose to keep my online identity separate from real life...as much as possible, anyway. Well done...

7:01 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

It's worse than that: most states in the US are "right to work" states, which means an employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all, and they don't have to tell you why they fired you.

Only two states have laws limiting how employers can restrict what employees do in their off hours, and most of those laws are very weak.

I know people who have been fired because of their blog.

My friend David Weinberger says, "a society of transparency must be a society of forgiveness." I hope he's right, because at some point we'll have to grow up and realize that something someone said on their MySpace page at age 14 probably isn't a reason to disqualify them for elective office or a job at age 34.

Also, if neccessary, you should google Anonyblog and Tor. Things to keep in the back of your mind, just in case.

8:13 PM  

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