What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Everyone knows that.
What happens on the internet is out there for all to see, and a surprising number of people simply don’t understand that at all. Career-wise, this lack of understanding can be painful.
Job hunters should know this: recruiters and hiring managers are more and more likely to check out the social media presence of those they are considering bringing on board. LinkedIn? Check – and usually not a problem; since it’s a business-oriented site, people’s pages might get a little braggy, but it pretty much stays buttoned down.
That’s just not so on Twitter or on people’s Facebook pages… that’s where people hang out, let their hair down, and post comments at 2:00 a.m. after having a few too many jello shooters… or worse, post pictures at 2:00 a.m. after having a few too many jello shooters. It’s also where many people let their freak flag fly, voicing off the wall opinions, trashing people who disagree with them, bashing their employer or their boss – saying things they would never say in person.
There’s an old Latin saying that’s probably been in use since Roman days: In vino veritas. In wine there is truth. In other words, if you want to find out about a person’s character, get them a little drunk because their guard drops and they say what they’re really thinking. Whether the user is under the influence of jello shooters or not, social media is like wine in that regard – people get drunk on their ability to speak their minds and say whatever they want… and they do just that.
How does all this relate to finding a job? Well, I’m sure most people by now have taken a pre-employment personality test. Some people can fool them. Some can’t. Some get horribly inaccurate results. As an HR person for more years than I care to remember, I hate the things for all the above reasons. But Social Media? Now there’s a personality test that gives pretty accurate results almost all the time – because people don’t know they’re taking the test, and their true character comes out to play. And it doesn’t matter if you can behave one way at work and another on your own time – what’s seen cannot be unseen, and perception is everything.
So – when Tweeting or posting on Facebook while in the midst of a job search, keep in mind two things: first, it may not be just your friends looking at it; and second, even if you realize a particular post or Tweet wasn’t a good idea and you pull it down – it may have already been seen by someone you’d prefer to keep in the dark about your habit of dancing naked in your backyard during a full moon.
It’s probably best to keep that stuff for Vegas, or at least off the internet until you find that job you’re looking for.