Social Networking - lessons for Candidates / future job hunters

Social networking is getting lots of airplay in NZ currently. We use an example to illustrate how online posts can result can affect your career and from it suggest 3 lessons for candidates in how they use social media as well as inviting thought for employers and recruiters. We plan to tackle the legislative aspects of this in a future post.
First wishing you all the best for 2011 in our first post of the year.
Social networking is getting much airplay in NZ and Australia currently. In our work we tend to see that experience of these channels amongst candidates is less than what we tend to see in some overseas markets such as the UK and US: accounts seem to be newer and with many contacts/friends etc recently added.

This post in particular is really a warning as to how you can come unstuck if you are careless in using social networks. Whilst legislation and best practice may dictate how social network information should be used within aspects of recruitment this may well be not understood by employers and online comments and behaviours may affect your chances of landing a job. If you are interested, we outline our view of social networking for candidates in our Career Management section on this site and at - scroll down to the paragraph headed References.

Now to our learning point - citing an extreme but true example supplied to us by a fellow recruiter from another firm. It is available on and before anyone asks we believe was an example from the UK. Without further ado here is the copy of a post from Facebook made by an employee directed at her boss and her employer’s response to that comment.

Clearly this was to put it mildly a rather silly post to make. Her boss,the subject of the post, was also friended on Facebook... As you can see it resulted in her losing her job and being humiliated in return online.

Whilst is an extreme example candidates should be aware that employers will often look up candidates “online”. Legal rights and wrongs aside it is human nature to form a judgement and this may affect your perception. Note - well networked people with cogent, insightful posts and useful contacts will likely be better thought of. However using this extreme example we suggest the following as practical lessons for social network usage for those job hunting:

Lesson 1: Online is forever. A post made when you are 16 may still as far as we know still available online in the future for people to see when you are 60. Do not write anything online that you may look back on and think. OMG....
Lesson2: You never know who may be watching. Clearly your contacts and online friends will see posts - but so may others. After-all it is relatively easy to forward posts by email.
Lesson3: Dont attack anyone online - you never know where it might go or what might come back for all to see. Especially dont attack your boss or colleagues - from the standpoint of them being your boss or colleagues as was done in this example. Attacking those who were friended etc was clearly dumb and especially so since it was her boss.

Lastly we do get employers also checking this blog as well as others working in HR and the Recruitment Agency world. How would you have handed this?
We think the manager also put his organisation at risk in this response - in another what we think is a more likely scenario he could have ignored and not responded online and then could well have lined up “evidence” to have her terminated at the end of the trial. There are some interesting legal aspects to how employers deal with social networking and online which we will cover in a future post in 2011 - an area that seems to be an evolving if little understood aspect of legislation.