Stop being an idiot online.

Recently, I talked to a CEO I know.

During the conversation he told me his company had started using firms that create “online background checks” for potential employees.

There are now firms that will scrape your Facebook profile, Twitter profiles and any use of social media to create an extensive profile on you.

The company thinking about interviewing you now has something new to think about.

Is that an invasion of privacy? Maybe, but the days of employers not researching your digital footprint are long gone my friend. And I’m not talking about jobs Β for just high paid executives. I’m talking about any and every level of corporate work.

Why is this is a problem?

Because we all tend to be idiots online sometimes.

We complain about past bosses.

We whine about our jobs.

We post photos from spring break.

We go on long, curse filled political diatribes.

And bit by bit, pixel by pixel, we create a profile of ourselves that will sink even the most amazing resume. Want to ruin an interview that went well? Do something stupid on Facebook. Want to reduce the value of that college degree you’re getting right now? Make horrible mistakes online.

Want my best career advice?

Stop being an idiot online.

Your next job is watching. I promise.

p.s. Want to win at work? Read Do Over .

  • Cherie from Queen of Free
    Posted at 15:42h, 30 October Reply

    It’s not just the corporate world watching. Attorneys are, too. My husband is a lawyer & your online presence is being brought into the court, as well. Of course this is advantageous if your spouse isn’t paying child support but posting pics of his brand new motorcycle online but can be damaging if your lips are loose (and nasty) about a custody case. “If you can’t insta anything nice . . .”

    • Jessica
      Posted at 22:23h, 02 November Reply

      Good point, attorneys are all over the social media networks! Yeah, so you probably shouldn’t claim you have an workers compensation injury, sue the company, and then post photos and video of you using the said “injured” body parts to dance and wiggle the night away! lol

  • Justin
    Posted at 15:42h, 30 October Reply

    This is right on Jon – I was in the front office for a professional sports team, and one of the first things I did (especially during a tough season) was check the Facebook and Twitter profiles for applicants that were looking at roles on my specific team. Many of them had negative things to say about the coach, key player, owner, whatever. They were immediately out.

    • Dirk
      Posted at 22:03h, 30 October Reply

      No wonder most pro sports front offices are stocked with “Yes” men!

  • Adam Faughn
    Posted at 15:43h, 30 October Reply

    So true! It all comes back to thinking beyond the moment. It’s so easy to spout off without thinking about how it could come back against us later.

  • Travis Trueblood
    Posted at 15:44h, 30 October Reply

    I have personally passed on applicants for internships based on this very thing. Most seemed like great, well qualified people, but the lack of judgment shown in what they posted made me question their judgment on the job as well.

    That being said, more often than I like to admit, I find myself posting rants only to delete them moments later when I realize that it was a stupid thing to put out there! Thanks for the reminder, Jon!

    • Indy Ink
      Posted at 10:43h, 31 October Reply

      I’ve done the post-and-delete thing a lot myself. :-/

      • JP
        Posted at 17:26h, 31 October Reply

        Right there with you on that.

  • Stacy Z
    Posted at 15:46h, 30 October Reply

    My SIL regularly posts negative updates about her job and/or pictures of her being lazy on the job. When suggested she shouldn’t post them her reply is always “the people who weren’t meant to see them can’t.”

    I always argue it doesn’t matter.

    A friend could share it with a friend who could share with someone you didn’t think would know about it. It could all start out innocent and still get you in trouble.

    • Kathy
      Posted at 18:07h, 30 October Reply

      Unfortunately, your SIL is going to be out of a job one of these days. My daughter and son-in-law both posted negatives about their positions at a large, well-known retailer and were fired. They thought their friends would enjoy and participate in their posts, and they did, and then someone sent them to management.

  • Kyle Macon
    Posted at 15:51h, 30 October Reply

    The internet has become individual stupidity immortalized. I learned this lesson from a few brothers-in-Christ who set me down to talk about my online actions and how (whether I realized it or not) they were hurting my reputation and the cause of Christ. I had to do a big self-evaluation and clean up my online self. I tend to phase postings through the “What would the wife/Christ/parents/teens I mentor think?” process.

    • Karen
      Posted at 13:05h, 03 September Reply

      I tell my grandkids snd anyone who will listen not to post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read, unless your grandma is a hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, cussin’biker mama. By the way, I am none of those.

      • Karen
        Posted at 13:07h, 03 September Reply

        Sorry for the typos, I’m on my phone.

  • Mary Caldwell
    Posted at 15:53h, 30 October Reply

    This is so relevant. It is needed in the business world, our personal life, and especially in the church(those of us that call ourselves Christians).

  • C
    Posted at 15:54h, 30 October Reply

    Current employers are watching too. If you are badmouthing your employer they may not want to keep signing paychecks for you.

  • Dave D
    Posted at 15:55h, 30 October Reply

    I personally believe that the language you use (online or offline) plays a bigger role than people realize. It connects back with what Travis said – a lack of judgement or a lack of self-control can be indicative of a character flaw that you really don’t want to have in your business.

  • Dawn D
    Posted at 15:57h, 30 October Reply

    I think I may have a new career. As a mom of now 3 young adults, I am very proficient at scoping out social media. Within hours of my daughter meeting a new guy, I can find his Facebook, twitter, Instagram and have a first impression. May have to pursue this…………

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:09h, 03 September Reply

      Ha! I do this too.

  • NotAnIdiot
    Posted at 16:01h, 30 October Reply

    While I agree with this to some extent, and the fact that some people post what should be kept private, all over the internet; where is the line drawn?

    I mean, I used to go out, and have some pretty horrible pictures posted of me on the web. I have since grown up and out of my twenties and pulled them down (well, the ones I have access to). Are employers judging people from their past, like 5+ years ago past? Have employers never done some of these things themselves?

    Like I said, I agree with this to some extent – but judging someone on something that may be several years old but just never pulled off the web, or the password to that account was forgotten and never used again, that’s where I disagree with this. I have several accounts that I couldn’t tell you the web address or my log in information, but I know they are out there somewhere from over 6 years ago. Let’s hope all of that is dated with the year (at the very least) so people know those scenarios aren’t what I was doing last weekend…

    • Small Business Employer
      Posted at 10:43h, 03 September Reply

      I think it goes back to what was published and when. Was 5 years ago in college for you? Sure there may be ramifications such as first impressions, but I doubt it would ruin a great interview.

      Was it last week? Or was 5 years ago when you were in your 50s? Either of those cases definitely make the pros/con list of hiring a person.

      I actually knew a guy who had a great interview, great resume. His girlfriend at the time (this was more than 10 years ago) blogged about how he was interviewing. Named the company, named the people who interviewed him and their titles, went into detail about the interview process. Ended the blog with a cheery “he’s going to get it!” message or something similar. A simple Google search brought it up and the offer letter was shredded. It was just a little blog that probably only her family read but the idea that their whole company was being put out there with so little regard was unsettling. Be careful about what you post and to who!

  • Keith
    Posted at 16:03h, 30 October Reply

    There are two terrible/immutable truths about the internet:

    First, anything you publish is public. Even on “private” or limited access sites, if you posted it, eventually it will find its way to where you never intended for it to go. My personal rule is, if you’re not comfortable with anyone, anywhere seeing it, don’t put it online.

    Second, the internet is forever. The instant you push send/post, that data is irretrievable. You may be able to take it down from your profile or delete it from your website, but somewhere, that data still exists. Again, if you’re not comfortable with it being seen by anyone, anywhere and forever, give it a second thought.

    Great article, Mr. Acuff. Please keep them coming!

    • Small Business Employer
      Posted at 10:43h, 03 September Reply

      Plus, even if you make it private or take it down, someone else can screen grab it and send it where ever they like!

      • Lizziec
        Posted at 22:16h, 03 September Reply

        I learnt this the hard way, after leaving a job I posted something to my private facebook page, just what I thought was gossip, someone at my old worked passed it on, printed it up, ended up in the HR department who called me and threatened me with legal action. I wasn’t an employee any more so didn’t understand what was wrong, I felt more betrayed by a so-called friend than anything but when I look back now I learnt a very big lesson and now I am very careful about what I post about anything.

  • Seth Fargher
    Posted at 16:07h, 30 October Reply

    SO TRUE!!! I worked as a sponsorship director for a couple of years and would have hundreds of would be athletes reach out and ask for support…oddly enough, many would also friend me on facebook giving me instant access to the things they post online. Vulgar, foul, obscenities would fill my news feed and give me a very good glimpse at their character. And they’re clueless about it! Well put Jon.

  • Andrea H.
    Posted at 16:12h, 30 October Reply

    Jon, maybe I am naive, but how do potential employers get access to your personal fb account if you have the privacy setting adjusted so that only your friends can see it? I can understand the gov’t having access if you are accused of a crime, but others?

    • Beth
      Posted at 16:55h, 30 October Reply

      Good question. In some cases, people are lazy about their settings, and you can also accidentally post publicly if you aren’t careful to make sure it’s just to friends. Perhaps that’s how some potential employers are seeing things.

    • Alice
      Posted at 16:56h, 30 October Reply

      Hey Andrea, I’m sure there are lots of answers to this but I can just tell you that it’s possible and therefore Jon’s right that you should be careful. Some things that may not show up when someone is ACTUALLY on Facebook may be indexed by other sites, such as Google. ESPECIALLY images.

      • Jill
        Posted at 19:53h, 30 October Reply

        I’m pretty sure they can’t, if you have it set to private, or friends only…the one big caveat is if you have friends who have their privacy more open, if you comment on their posts, it is public… I hate that. But really, we shouldn’t be posting anything that needs to be private, is my opinion. I still have it as locked down as I know how, but I’m still often surprised at what I see when I see myself from another profile.

      • Andrea H.
        Posted at 03:50h, 31 October Reply

        I am very careful because I do realize that you should never say or do anything online that you don’t care if the whole world knows. I just wondered how it practically works. It is very scary when I think about my children using social media. Like Jon, my kids are 10 and 7 and allowing them to have a Facebook page is the farthest thing from my mind. Their online footprint should not begin that early.

    • Brian
      Posted at 08:12h, 31 October Reply

      In short, it’s a digital record of every mistake you make. Even if it’s private today, Facebook could change privacy policies tomorrow. Case in point here, you used to be able to make your FB profile unsearchable. They just disabled that, and now anyone can find anyone. Facebook makes money off of content and connections, and the more you share publicly, the more they make. It’s financial disincentive for strong privacy controls, and every social network seems to be in the same boat.

      • Alice
        Posted at 10:48h, 31 October Reply

        good food for thought, Brian.

      • NotAnIdiot
        Posted at 11:11h, 31 October Reply

        I’m not sure which FB version you are using and I wish I could screenshot, but the option is still available to make your profile unsearchable. Copy and pasted from privacy settings:

        -Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?
        Please note:
        When this setting is on, it is easier for other search engines to link to your timeline in search results.
        If you turn off this setting, it may take a while for search engines to stop showing the link to your timeline in their results.
        To turn on this setting, first you need to set your Who can look up your timeline by name? setting to Everyone.
        [ ]Let other search engines link to your timeline

        I also have “googled” myself and not one of my FB items appeared.

  • Korie
    Posted at 16:17h, 30 October Reply

    Jon… just wait until your girls start going online and using social media. It is a scary, scary thing. Kids are digging a huge hole for themselves very early on in life with this type of footprint online. I monitor my kids IG and FB accounts… I audit them whenever I want… it was the deal we made. Some of the stuff I see other kids post…. it’s just horrible. This is a great reminder for us all.Thanks

  • Jason
    Posted at 16:18h, 30 October Reply

    Typo alert. Missing one word in 4th (or 5th depending on if you count that first line) paragraph.

    You’ll find it.

    You’re welcome πŸ™‚ love your stuff!!!!


  • Josue
    Posted at 16:40h, 30 October Reply

    This is dangerous stuff. People assume LinkedIn should be their only professional profile when reality all your social platform should voice who you are as a brand or professional. Of course, there is a fine line. We can be as idiot as we want to be, it’s our life. But when employers are going to this extreme, then it’s something to think about.

  • Charles Sharpe
    Posted at 16:44h, 30 October Reply

    Did you have someone proofreading your posts when you worked on Dave Ramsey’s team? If so, you should see if they’re available for freelance work.

    • The World Why Web
      Posted at 19:25h, 30 October Reply

      Why should he? I like the raw version and even some misspellings here and there. It lets me know the post is truly coming from the author’s heart and not a “team”.

      Writing is an art form, I would have never walked up to Picasso and said, “Here, let me correct a few of your brush strokes”.

      With that being said, please reread the title of this post. πŸ˜‰

    • Missie
      Posted at 20:39h, 30 October Reply

      I “like” this comment! πŸ™‚

      • Missie
        Posted at 20:41h, 30 October Reply

        I meant that as a reply to Charles’ comment!! Yes to proofreading one’s work! I’ll refer THAT back to the title of the post. πŸ™‚

        • The World Why Web
          Posted at 21:08h, 30 October Reply

          LOL, yes, I am sure you will! And every reference it implies to you. πŸ˜‰

  • Brandon Gradelle Smith
    Posted at 16:51h, 30 October Reply

    Can I still be an idiot in real life though? πŸ™‚

  • Marlena Karlsson
    Posted at 16:52h, 30 October Reply

    You are exactly right Jon – This is a perfect discussion to have right now. How often we say/do/post/update pictures and mindlessly think we are alone in this act. I’m thankful that Facebook was not around during the 80’s. If they whipped out a picture of me then, I’m sure my turquoise eye shadow, White Rain hair, Rick Springfield concert t-shirt and Flock of Seagulls blaring out my car radio would have blown any fabulous answer I may have been able to muster in the interview.

  • Brenda
    Posted at 16:54h, 30 October Reply

    For the proofreaders here – there is an email link to let Jon know about these things.

    • Marty
      Posted at 14:51h, 19 November Reply

      Ah yes, but that would not allow the English students to feel as superior. πŸ™‚

  • Mike Williams
    Posted at 16:56h, 30 October Reply

    So true. This has been happening for a few years now. About 5 year ago I was at lunch with a VP from one of our vendors. He mentioned how hard it was to fill a position. He was ready to hire his top candidate until he did a last minute check of his social media. The guy had many pictures of himself in compromising and stupid positions. He didn’t get hired. It made me really consider what I would put online.

  • Andy
    Posted at 17:04h, 30 October Reply

    I advise my kids to just lurk, don’t post ANYTHING online. Better yet keep in touch with people you want to in real life. We don’t need Facebook and all the rest of the “social media” mess.

  • The World Why Web
    Posted at 17:12h, 30 October Reply

    That is why my Facebook is under a different name.

    I use Jon Acuff


  • Shannon Mischuk
    Posted at 17:22h, 30 October Reply

    This is something we brought up in a panel discussion regarding Social Media Etiquette at BlissDom Canada this year. (

    Great advice Jon.

  • Chris
    Posted at 17:28h, 30 October Reply

    A lot of people don’t like being friends with their bosses on social media, but I find that it actually keeps me from saying stupid things, knowing that he can see my profile and act accordingly.

  • Tim
    Posted at 17:51h, 30 October Reply

    Not only should I avoid being an idiot on-line, it’s illegal for me to be an idiot on-line according to the California Code of Judicial Conduct: CANON 2 – A JUDGE SHALL AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL OF THE JUDGE’S ACTIVITIES

    Oh well.

  • Sarah Hubbell
    Posted at 18:13h, 30 October Reply

    It’s definitely not just executives. I passed over a potential employee, whose resume was excellent, because her FB profile was filled with photos of her and her girlfriends going out clubbing and drinking what appeared to me to be excessively. Is it fair to make a judgement about her based on those photos? Maybe not, but as a hiring manager, I don’t want my employees coming to work exhausted and hungover.

    On the flip side, I have had two potential employees with so-so resumes who had awesome blogs that I found on my own about really cool adventures. It proved they were good writers and said something about their personalities and character I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. In the end I didn’t hire them, but they each got second interviews.

    • Brian
      Posted at 08:14h, 31 October Reply

      Thanks for sharing the upside to this!

  • Michelle
    Posted at 18:21h, 30 October Reply

    I am a hiring manager where I work and I ALWAYS google potential employees and talk their facebook before I hire them. And Yes I have skipped hiring people because of what I saw.

    • Michelle
      Posted at 18:22h, 30 October Reply

      I stalk their facebook lol not talk them

  • Joe
    Posted at 19:43h, 30 October Reply

    I think you could also extend this to simply say “don’t be an idiot”. If you post irresponsible, insulting, or close-minded things on social media, it is probably because you are that type of person.

  • Jim
    Posted at 21:24h, 30 October Reply

    Well then I should be able to get a good job! πŸ™‚ I NEVER post negative things on-line. Well if it’s something I really find upsetting (like animal or human rights abuse) I’ll speak up. You don’t want to hire me for that so be it! I stand by those things.

    But for the most part I’ll share funny or inspiring pictures or stories. I’ll attached you-tube videos of my heros who have something awsome to share. So I welcome someone to check out my Facebook page.

    Now we could talk about FICO and how that effects job prospects but that’s a can of worms….okay maybe I just opened it! I like having a high score and I
    don’t have consumer debt….

  • Michael
    Posted at 00:11h, 31 October Reply

    If it’s not something you don’t want the whole world to know, don’t put it anywhere near the interwebs, social media included.
    Anyone is welcome to follow me on any social media sites including my current boss or any prospective employers.
    But, I’m not an idiot (at least when it comes to social media).

  • ...adam
    Posted at 07:39h, 31 October Reply

    How about “stop being an idiot online regardless of who is watching”? To stop being a idiot merely because a potential employer might see is a terrible motivation and will only last til you’ve found the next job. “Stop being an idiot online because it’s what’s right and good and loving, regardless of who is watching.”

  • Tom Henricksen
    Posted at 07:54h, 31 October Reply

    This is great advice Jon! This is important for college students to understand, but many don’t until it is too late.

  • Kim
    Posted at 09:47h, 31 October Reply

    Yes, we are in an age where that information is accessible, like it or not. As one who has done hiring in the past, I would have avoided a couple of bad hires if FB had been around. I have no doubt the gals would have been exhibiting their poor decision making ability on FB.

    So many folks think it’s not fair to judge based on their online presence. I agree with others, though: it goes to your basic character. If you are going to publicly announce that you make fun of people, cheat and lie at work, behave badly in public, and deny you’ve been in the wrong, I would be a fool to think that behavior is not going to surface at work.

  • lynn
    Posted at 10:02h, 31 October Reply

    YES – it is amazing what people post and some do not realize the lasting consequence.

    I also feel like giving kids a lesson that HELLO, your parents and parents friends can see your friends pictures of that party you had in THEIR house while they were out. What happened to the days that your parents found out because either you did not clean up enough or you cleaned up too much and they knew something was up?

  • Esther
    Posted at 10:08h, 31 October Reply

    This is something I’ve been training my teenager to do as well. Kids start creating their online profiles so early now, that they have a much larger opportunity to be idiots online!

  • Travis S.
    Posted at 10:12h, 31 October Reply

    While I agree with your post I find it odd that as the internet allows us all to bypass the gatekeepers of news and information hoarding, we then must all censor and mute our true selves online if we differentiate from the “norm” or accepted.
    Hopefully in the next couple of decades we can get passed this foolishness and hire people because they do good work instead of some other largely arbitrary measure of their life that may or may not affect their work. Eventually enough people who grew up in the social media age will be in power and what you posted on your profile won’t matter as long as you can do the job.

  • Judy
    Posted at 10:17h, 31 October Reply

    So true. I believe resumes will be obselete in a few years. I recently took a job and my resume was the 5th thing they looked at: Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, then my resume.

  • Melinda Todd
    Posted at 10:19h, 31 October Reply

    Oh man, you’re taking all the fun out of being online πŸ˜‰ JK. I’ve heard the quote, “If your pastor was to take all your texts, status updates, Tweets, etc and put them up on the big screen before the whole church, how would you feel?” I try to adhere to having some integrity but I’m sure we all mess up at times. And since a large part of my church are friends with me on FB, I’m already broadcasting on the big screen at church. If I were still doing HR for a living, I’d be checking people out online too.

  • Sharon
    Posted at 10:44h, 31 October Reply

    I fired three employees for speculating on social media about the sexual practices of management (calling them by name). It was meant to be joking around, but I found it to be in extremely poor taste. They were sure that it was illegal for me to fire them, but I wonder why they would want to work for people for whom they obviously had very little respect. When I asked one of them that question he said it was because the job was easy. Well then.

  • Joshua Cole
    Posted at 10:47h, 31 October Reply

    This makes me want to create an instagram account called “Idiots’R’Us” and collect all the random faux pas from social media people have posted and what it cost them.

  • Jeff Goins
    Posted at 10:51h, 31 October Reply

    But being an idiot gets such good attention.

  • M@
    Posted at 11:06h, 31 October Reply

    There are two components here, and one of them is being overlooked, I think. The first has been very well stated a number of times: be prudent. I.e. set your privacy, Facebook makes everything public by default. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that what you INTEND to be private, actually IS private.

    The other is, however, that it is at best unethical, and in some cases illegal for an employer to use information from social media as part of a hiring or evaluation basis.

    Would it be appropriate for your [potential] employer to camp outside your house, go through your garbage, and/or follow you to the bar? In some cases (such as prominent and/or powerful public servants) this is appropriate, but in most cases it’s not.

    While it’s still not illegal in many places for your [potential] employer to ask for your Facebook password, or to use the accounts of known friends to view restricted content, it is entirely inappropriate, and quite unprofessional.

    That being said, some employers are unscrupulous, unaware, unprofessional, and/or thoughtless, so still don’t be stupid. The immutable laws of the internet are still in effect.

    I’ll be comfortable with an employer or potential employer going through my Facebook page on the same day that I become comfortable with them (surreptitiously, or otherwise) following me and my family to the mall.

  • Scott
    Posted at 11:52h, 31 October Reply

    The way everyone talks about this it’s as if anyone can get in and view ANYONES profile. I have my security set to friends only. How is it that ppl. Can see everything?

    • Becky Emerick
      Posted at 12:37h, 31 October Reply

      When applying for a fire fighter job recently, my husband was told to provide his user names and passwords to all of his social networking sites. That’s how employers can find out. Thankfully, he doesn’t have any social networking sites. He leaves that to me. πŸ™‚

      • WayneAP
        Posted at 14:11h, 31 October Reply

        Fortunately, that practice is being challenged in court, and will most likely be outlawed. That’s like an employer wanting to know your ATM PIN to check how you spend your money. Nobody in their right mind would give that out.

  • Lauri
    Posted at 11:52h, 31 October Reply

    Our summer audit intern this summer had a completely clean profile, but learned a lesson about it. We looked at his resume between his locations, schools, and activities I was sure we would have mutual friends. We did have one. It meant that my co-workers and I looked through his senior prom photos. He was shocked one afternoon when I asked how he knew Sam. I found out yesterday that my interviewer and I know someone in common, so you just never know.
    OTOH in college, it was drilled into our heads that we are judged 24/7 and have to be “on” every moment to be successful. If I upload a picture of my senior high school homecoming dress to show friends how much it says “1994,” I know it’s not the professional outfit I would choose today, but as long as it doesn’t show bad moral/legal situations, you know, employees are human and sometimes they like The Bachelor and to vacation at tourist traps, but can still do their job.

  • Nancy
    Posted at 12:40h, 31 October Reply

    We have a little policy in our home when it comes to online activity:
    Don’t post something unless you’re ok that the whole world sees it.
    Because they will.

  • WayneAP
    Posted at 14:08h, 31 October Reply

    I collect items – full bottles, shot glasses, etc. – from a local distillery, and if I score a big find, I post it online. I rarely imbibe. That would decrease the value of my collection. If an employer rejects my resume because they see some pictures of (use your Church Lady voice and say) “sinful” items and disregard the comments about my collection, then I probably don’t want to work for them, either.

  • TODD
    Posted at 17:15h, 31 October Reply

    Could care less. The things I say and post on my profile page are things I would say offline and to someone’s face. This is a tool for the liberal progressive to scare their conservative enemies to not post conservative stuff on their page.

  • Brian O.
    Posted at 09:01h, 01 November Reply

    I kid you not, I just read this blog a couple days ago and thought, “Eh…all my social networking is on private…” Until I got a phone call from guy who found me on career builder, and is interested in working with me. He said after he found my resume’ he googled me, and immediately I thought, “Oh God…what is out there?” (I’m a social networking junkie). I immediately started googling myself and looking for what he found. Haha. Today’s world is so so different than it was even 10-15 years ago. Gotta be more careful about my rants and raves on the interwebs….and also my instagram…hahaha.

  • Juanita Schulze
    Posted at 09:37h, 02 November Reply

    Jon, you are so right. Thank you for this post! I have told this to my young family members. There are a few out on the left coast who will not listen and they keep whining about their crappy jobs and how they want better ones and don’t understand why they can’t get them. One look at their Facebook page says it all but they do not believe it!

    David and I own our own home-based business and we have learned to find out all we can about potential employees after getting ripped off by a 17 year old who needed some work during spring break from our church. His mother kept begging and my husband, against his better judgment agreed and the kid walked off with 56 packs of seeds that cost us $150 from our supplier. We know he did it because it was the last thing he was given to do and he was supposed to bring them back to my husband’s office before he left. Instead, he yelled, “My mother’s here!” Then he zoomed out the door. By the time I got down there, he was gone and so were the seeds. Neither he nor his mother would answer their phones for days. When we asked him where the seeds were, he asked, “Did you look in the trash?” As a matter of fact I did. I spent hours flipping couches and tearing up the whole downstairs. His mother said unless we actually saw him walk out of the house with the seeds in his sweet little hands, he did not take them. She then launched a lovely campaign at church to have us tossed from there. After 7 months of her abuse at church, we left. Oh, by the way, the morning he stole the seeds, his mother casually mentioned that he was an atheist and one look at his Facebook page would also have told us a lot more than that, but we did not check first. Do your homework, employers, or you will pay monetarily and in so many other ways! Employer, BEWARE! I wonder how you say that in Latin!

  • DDS
    Posted at 23:33h, 19 November Reply

    I definitely limit what I post online. There’s no moral/legal issues that would really “haunt” me later, I just don’t want to share everything with everyone. So if someone did get into my FB page, my biggest fear is that they’d conclude I am spectacularly boring…

  • JB
    Posted at 10:31h, 03 September Reply

    Good article, Jon. This is true for high schoolers applying to college, too. I sit on a college application committee for the top program in its field in the country. We don’t have time to track down every student who applies, but when we have questions and aren’t sure about someone, sure, we’ll boot up their Facebook page. (We can’t always find them. Smart kids change their name on FB during college application season to protect their privacy.) A couple of times I’ve found kids who were lying on their applications. Everything online is potentially public.

  • Heath Rost
    Posted at 10:34h, 03 September Reply

    I wrote out a full response to this post about being conflicted with it and it ended with agreeing with you. Thanks for the mind vitamin today Jon πŸ™‚ God bless!

  • Chris McKinney
    Posted at 10:35h, 03 September Reply

    Better yet, become an entrepreneur, leave the corporate world altogether, and then you can have freedom to be yourself!

  • Bnpositive
    Posted at 10:37h, 03 September Reply

    A number of years ago (10?) I was working for a company that looked for pharmaceutical sales reps for their organizations. Many times these were either experienced reps or they were recruiting new reps right out of college. At the time I remember searching for potential candidates online looking for phone numbers or contact information and would frequently get their Facebook or MySpace pages. I took a few examples to hiring managers and asked if they were concerned about any of the information I saw. They said not to worry about it, that stuff didn’t matter. I of course disagreed, looks like HR is finally catching up.

  • Liz Barnett (@womanlywoman)
    Posted at 10:43h, 03 September Reply

    I used to care about this crap. (Yep, I just said crap on a feed about watching your behavior online.) Then I started to care about being my authentic self. I say crap like this in real life, so why should I be different online? The only difference is that there is evidence of me saying crap like that online. The way I look at it is that if there is a future employer or someone reading my crap online, they won’t be surprised when I say the crap out loud at work. That is what would happen. So, I present myself online in a very similar way to how I do in real life. If someone doesn’t like it online, then they won’t like it in real life. And if they don’t like it in real life, then I don’t want to deal with them anyway. I’ll have to face the consequences of that, just like I did when I said loudly at work in range of the Vice President, “If I had a penis, I would make more money at this stupid job.” I feel like that is something I might post on Facebook, something I might say down the hallway from the Vice President, and something I might say face-to-face with the Board of Directors. That being the case, I don’t think it’s a big deal to post it on Facebook or any other form of online personality expression. I DO, HOWEVER, think that people seem to think online communication is DIFFERENT than other forms of self expression. I believe THAT is the issue. As long as you are willing to face the consequences, do whatever the heck you want but just realize it may have real life consequences. The internet is not a dream land, it is an extension of real life.

    • Alaina Rhodes
      Posted at 16:12h, 04 March Reply

      I think it’s less about whether we use slang like “crap” and more about if we’re just a huge jerks, as was the case with those men getting fired for bullying a teenage girl on Twitter… If I were hiring someone I would be less concerned about their language and more concerned about how they treat people via social media.

      But yes, I agree that we should be “real” online. A polished, clean face on the internet won’t keep you from getting fired when you finally reveal your dirty face at your job.

  • Michelle
    Posted at 11:17h, 03 September Reply

    This is why I tell my teenage daughter over and over that everything she says or does online will never go away. Be mindful of your words and actions because you never want to live with regret over something that the entire world, or one great job opportunity, can see.

  • Scott Castle
    Posted at 11:38h, 03 September Reply

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.
    Oscar Wild

    What I’d love to know is how/why company’s can supposedly supersede my privacy settings! No one has explicitly said they can see my fb unless I have it set to public
    But all the articles I’m reading seem to speak of it like that’s an obvious thing one can do.

    Why could a company see my private fb when there are restrictions to prevent individuals from doing so?


  • Liz H. Alexander
    Posted at 12:05h, 03 September Reply

    I’ve known about this for several years now. Before that, they could keep a record of your online presence in the office.

    It was around the time that I learned these things that I started cleaning up my online act. πŸ™‚ Also, I’ve often used aliases for personal stuff on various sites, but I’m not sure how much that plays into it these days. (I find it a little disconcerting that an opinionated socio-political rant I went on a decade ago under a completely different name on a random website will somehow play into my interview process. :/ It all just seems kind of shady. Why not at least let the person know what you found..?)

  • Jo Fick
    Posted at 12:09h, 03 September Reply

    I often see people posting comments on FB when I know they are at work, and wonder to myself, does your boss know you are surfing Pinterest and Facebook and filling out quizzes? I’m sure it’s all on your break and lunch time, but it make me someone wonder.

  • Billie
    Posted at 20:08h, 01 February Reply

    I need more info please

  • Robert Faulkner
    Posted at 18:27h, 04 March Reply

    I am a Computer Forensic Examiner and a Private Investigator.
    When you do something stupid, when you break the law, or sometimes even when applying for work, local LEOs, Lawyers, and Corporations hire me to do a full workup on you.
    This includes your social media, online presence as well as Criminal history.
    With a keystroke you’d be amazed what I can find.

    That being said, this article is 1000% correct, and I strongly suggest you take the advice given herein.

  • LauriOH
    Posted at 19:17h, 04 March Reply

    My new manager said the company doesn’t care what you do online. I smiled and nodded, but thought I don’t truly believe it. Also, it never hurts to be careful online.

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