Zara Rabinowicz writes
As a professional Internet blogger I Google myself on a rather regular basis, perhaps along the same lines as Katie Lee, for the little thrill when I see my name in type on the screen. However I recently ran across a friend who found the same Google action I find so pleasurable an uncomfortable experience.
She had been applying for some job positions, and as a heavily qualified girl with bags of experience she was surprised when she kept receiving rejection after rejection. Eventually after she had started getting the knockback from jobs that were below her radar she snapped and called up the company to ask for some feedback. After being passed around a few departments and listening to the emming and ahhings of the company big wigs, her MySpace page was mentioned, and it started to click.
Or more accurately, the prospective employers had clicked, right onto her profile which had pictures of her in fairly compromising activities at music festivals, as well as listing 'alcohol and sleeping in' under her favorite past times. Once she'd removed the offending content, surprise surprise, she was suddenly getting invited to interviews. 'It's incredibly unfair,' she raved, 'how dare they infringe in my personal life like this?'
Well technically anything you post online is considered in the public domain and up for grabs to anyone but I see her point. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers more than half of all employers use online screening technology including the very popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.
There are also other concerns raised by employers searching for candidates on this basis- many race related and sexism issues are created as employers can now determine the race and sexual preference of potential employees long before they meet them in person- and this may unfairly bias them against them. Then there are reports of contracts being terminated based on employees blogging about their lifestyle and work, even when the employee in question was using a pseudonym. Ex Delta Air Line flight attendant Ellen Simonetti lost her job after posting pictures of herself on her website
that were deemed inappropriate- even though the airline in question was never pictured or mentioned in her blog.
While the web has provided us with numerous avenues for information, it seems to be at the compromise of our private lives. You could argue that anyone who willingly posts pictures or information about themselves is open to having it read, but it seems a rather underhand way to gather data on potential employees. Anyone who has ever worked in an office or read a CV will know that there is a huge disparity between assumed competence and actual competence and without meeting face to face judging people via a site which is designed for recreational use, is creating an an unfair , playing field. Social networking sites are all about down time- and no office should censor your after work behaviour. Whilst employers may continue to Google you for dirt, they should be aware they are not receiving the full picture. In the mean time, think twice about posting those topless shots.
Zara Rabinowicz writes for Shiny Shiny, The Baglady, and Star Trip, and her first Google hit says ,' If anybody is proof that cookery lessons should return to the national curriculum, it is Zara Rabinowicz.' It makes her mother proud.