Blog: Jennifer Neumann

Social media is a necessary minefield for entrepreneurs and jobseekers to navigate. While voiding the past isn't always possible, Foley & Lardner LLP attorney Jennifer Neumann gives the rundown on proper usage of this tool.

The Inescapable Past: Job Applicants Beware of Your Social Media History!

Social media is all about speed. Not only does the information get out with the click of a button, but users also don't hesitate to hastily make comments or share pictures. Composing a message that the entire world can access no longer requires writing a book, or utilizing TV or radio stations. Now, while standing in line at the grocery store or relaxing on the couch, a person can type out what's on his or her mind, post it on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog, and have the potential to reach a worldwide audience.

The rate at which people post makes it much more likely that they will say things they may regret later. On some sites, a user may be able to go back and delete comments or posts, but that is not always the case. The posts may potentially be too numerous to deal with, or the website owner may be unwilling to remove the content.

Employees and individuals looking for a new job need to be especially cautious. Employers may review public Facebook profiles or Google the applicant's name to learn more about the candidate. A recent CareerBuilder survey revealed that 37% of companies research job candidates by reviewing social networking sites. My previous post discussed the risks associated with employer social media use, but, regardless, applicants should know that any incriminating posts, pictures, or videos may be disadvantageous to you, if not cost you the job. Some employers even hire companies to do the research for them and create a report card about the applicant. Job applicants can use this to their advantage by posting positive things and portraying themselves in a manner in which they want to be seen.

People who are currently employed should also be wary of what they post. Although a status update complaining about poor pay may be protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act -- even for employers who do not have unions -- other posts poking fun at a boss or embarrassing a coworker may get you a promotion to "newly fired."

Candidates and employees should take charge of their online image. Even if a resume is impressive, employers still won't want to hire someone who is rude or irresponsible as it will reflect badly on the company. It's wise to delete embarrassing or offensive comments, posts, videos, pictures, "likes," or retweets. It is better just to avoid posting anything inappropriate
in the first place. A final option is to delete accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social media sites. Although extreme, it does solve the matter once and for all (if anything is actually ever really deleted from the Internet).

Don't let social media get between you and a job. With so few jobs available, it is important to take all precautions to ensure you get ahead of the crowd.