Opening the Gate to the "Online You"
In an announcement that has been much ballyhooed, the FTC has recently given their seal of approval on incorporating Facebook and Twitter information in background checks. While this move has kicked up quite a large amount of froth amongst the large social media news community (and the even larger job-seeking community), it ultimately tells us something that we all should already know–that the line between your online and real-world personae is evermore blurred.
The FTC has given us the formalized warning–your next potential employer is looking you up in every way, shape and form possible, and there's probably not a whole lot you can do about it. And further complicating the situation is the fact that the consultancies that are carrying out these background checks are pretty good at finding dirt, if you leave it anywhere to be found.
But, social media networks don't have to be a blight on your otherwise spotless "personality portfolio"–that is, your resume, references, actual work portfolio, interview savvy, and sleek new tie you bought just for the interview. Just as CJP recommends all potential job candidates bring a heaping dose of common sense to the table, we like to see folks who have carried that trait over to managing their online presence.
Unfortunately enough, too many people don't focus on this side of things, and instead aim to overcompensate in ways that ultimately don't really help them land the job they're seeking. Pretend you're a hiring manager. What do you care more about–that the young college grad you're speaking with didn't bring the newest fashion in leather binders/portfolios with them to the interview, or that their top two "interests" on Facebook are "BEER" and "THE LADIES?"
To reiterate an age-old recommendation regarding social media–keep it clean. And why not go one step further? Leave the gate unlatched to your Facebook and Twitter page. Invite people in to check out your interests, your wall posts, and your photos. Show them who you are as a person. Who's to say–maybe that semi-obscure band you mention liking or random article you linked to will be a point of common interest and conversation in a future job interview?