The New York Times,
June 11, 2006
For Some, Online Persona Undermines a
When a small consulting company in Chicago was looking to hire a summer intern
this month, the company's president went online to check on a promising
candidate who had just graduated from the University of Illinois.
At Facebook, a popular social networking site, the executive found the candidate's
Web page with this description of his interests: "smokin' blunts" (cigars hollowed
out and stuffed with marijuana), shooting people and obsessive sex, all described
in vivid slang.
It did not matter that the student was clearly posturing. He was done.
"A lot of it makes me think, what kind of judgment does this person have?" said
the company's president, Brad Karsh. "Why are you allowing this to be viewed
publicly, effectively, or semipublicly?"
Many companies that recruit on college campuses have been using search engines
like Google and Yahoo to conduct background checks on seniors looking for their
first job. But now, college career counselors and other experts say, some recruiters
are looking up applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace,
Xanga and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing
photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational drug use and
sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is relative privacy.
When viewed by corporate recruiters or admissions officials at graduate and
professional schools, such pages can make students look immature and
unprofessional, at best.
"It's a growing phenomenon," said Michael Sciola, director of the career resource
center at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. "There are lots of employers
that Google. Now they've taken the next step."