While it is cool to update your pals about your life, it can make or mar your career as companies turn to social networking sites for the dope.
It is a mindless exercise in inanity. Getting into social networking sites, feeding the ever hungry digital blank that asks you “What's on your mind”, “What are you doing.” You feed it and it asks for more and more, finally you feed it something to your eternal regret. As information from Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and blogs swamp our collective lives, it is proving to be a treasure trove of information for recruiters, hirers and online job search companies.
The crescendo of information has reached such a state that recruiters are weeding out potential hires on the basis of the information, just as employees are being weeded out based on their social networking updates. Apocryphal stories are aplenty. “We had this person who was just out of college who would call up and say he is ill, but by afternoon there would be status updates about how the lunch with the friends was and by afternoon how good he was at network gaming. He would post his top scores to cheers and jeers by his friends,” says an HR person at one of the big five IT companies.
It is not that young people are unaware of the changing scene. “It is really difficult to create a profile that is not so – you. Every bit of the profile has to be you, right from the information that you keep updating, to the photos, to the friends, to the groups you like. You cannot hide information and you cannot be not doing what young people are doing,” says Divya, who works in the media.
One study by a HR firm found out that nearly seven out of 10 companies are hiring after factoring in the social networking information.
If some recruitment firms are using the information to weed out people they send to companies, there are others which help them cheat by teaching them how to weed out potential landmines of information. A difficult and time-consuming process but it is being done. “In 50 per cent of the cases we have to begin from the scratch. We have to ask our clients to first change the email usernames. Some of them have allusions to celebs while some have their own pranks. Companies won't give a second glance if the email name has hot, cool, dude, and a thousand other corny bits which might have been the identity in colleges. Then comes the tough part of mellowing the information from the photos to the old status updates. Yes, we help our clients do it,” says a woman working a recruitment firm, that screens applicants for big IT companies.
Yes blogs can be by invitation only and tweets can be password protected, but what use is the information if others don't see it? If you are not sharing it you are not doing it and you are not happening. Now, who wants to be a non-happening person?
While it is super cool to tell the world about what you are doing, it is difficult to erase the done. It is very much like a drunken brawl that keeps coming back to haunt you.