It’s no surprise that companies are looking online, primarily at search engines and social networks, to find out more about job applicants, especially when we have more job seekers than jobs at present.
There is a good and bad side to this.
On the one hand, if someone has content or links to content involving subject matter which can reasonably identify them as a threat to workplace harmony and safety, like swastikas, confederate flags, rape and/or snuff films, child pornography, glorifying of guns, knives, or other weapons, etc…, then I feel that it’s fair to use this information to make a hiring decision, to prevent possible harassment, discrimination, verbal abuse, and assault amongst employees.
On the other hand, while there is really no way to track or prevent or prove it, those responsible for hiring can use a person’s online presence as an indicator of their personality to discriminate against them wrongfully. If someone’s hobbies or attitudes, or more importantly, their politics or religion, differ from those of the company or more specifically, of the persons sorting through applicants and/or making the hiring decisions, being different can mean not getting the job.
I suppose, in some instances, this could also work to one’s advantage. In certain cases, a person might be hired BECAUSE they had sexy photos of their self online, or because their hobbies or beliefs were shared by someone in the hiring process, but this too would be discrimination; against the other applicants whose profiles online were less appealing.
The very nature of the Internet allows for anonymity and/or alternate identities, and a great many people use this feature to their advantage. However, even if a person used a nickname / pseudonym / handle / address that did not give away who they really are, offline, their identity might still be found if their real name or a personally identifying email address were used to create the account.
I have never been posted to the Internet anonymously or with an alternate identity. Everything I have done online, since I first used the web and email in 1995, has always been with my real name. This is because I am proud to live in a “free” country, where I have freedom of speech, religion, and the press. I have never been ashamed of or guarded with my opinions. I am sure I am not alone in this feeling. There are other people who use their real identities online. As time goes on, and the country gets split more and more between radical extremists of different types, and less accepting of honesty and opinion and more worried about “political correctness”, I have more concerns, if not even regrets about my policy of truth.
If you blog, or chat, or network, or post pictures, music, or movies of your art, or of yourself and/or acquaintances engaging in any activities or expressing any opinions or beliefs online, you are bound to be found offensive to someone, somewhere, and it just might prevent you from getting jobs, and in some cases, even cost you one you already have.
Big Brother IS watching.