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Don’t air Your Dirty Laundry on Social Media

Tonight I watched in disbelief as a social media page in my hometown blew up with accusations against a corporate restaurant that specializes in “all you can eat” buffet style cuisine. Apparently a woman took her daughter out for her birthday along with her mother and got bad service. She posted photos, and videos online because her mother was accused by the waitress of putting food in her purse. At buffet restaurants, you can’t take home the leftovers. The manager also approached the table and the woman started recording the encounter on her phone.

She posted the video on a Community Facebook page with 35,000 followers, where she called out the waitress and manager by name. Also included was a very long-winded story with all the sordid details. She was pissed off that her mother was accused of theft and called 911. I’m sure any of us would be angry to be falsely accused of theft, although calling 911 is a bit over the top since 911 is supposed to be used for life and death emergencies. But that’s not the issue here. I’m cringing over the fact she immediately went public on Facebook and it went viral, forcing the company to issue a statement. According to the thread, there may even be a lawsuit.

Our local TV station picked up the story, and now the incident will live for a very long time on page one of Google, easily searchable to a future employer. Many of the followers on the Facebook page are demanding that the manager and waitress be fired. Maybe they should. I don’t know, I wasn’t there and I don’t work with them or eat at their restaurant.

What I do know is the manager, the named waitress, AND the woman who decided to go public over this slight will probably be looking for a job in the future. It may not be right away, but at one time or another, we’re in the job market. And any astute HR manager will find this story online during the background check and move on to the next candidate. No one wants drama in the workplace regardless of who was at fault during the incident. It’s a HUGE distraction.

Stop Complaining online
Photo by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash

Don’t Stoop to Conquer.

Mistakes happen. If someone accused me of wrongdoing, the last thing I would do is publicize it for the world to know. Even if I was right. Airing dirty laundry can get very stinky. Now the credibility of the waitress, the manager, and the accuser are all in question. When you get in a pissing match with a skunk, you all smell bad.

Social media has become the judge and jury of these arguments, and frankly, no one wins. Not the accuser. Not the company. Not the employees. The problem should have been handled better, that’s for sure. But making these situations public can negatively impact one’s career. The accuser will learn that the hard way.

Before you post your drama online, look far into the future. Would you want this to affect your ability to find a good job?

A scorned woman wants revenge. A strong woman moves on. How one handles them-self in these situations speaks volumes.

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Don’t Let Facebook Ruin Your Career

Last week I was at a trade show in Las Vegas chatting with some fellow vendors about Facebook. The guy I was talking to at our booth “doesn’t do Facebook” and I understand why. I mentioned that someone in my list of Facebook Friends had been going through a public meltdown, describing intimate details of her broken marriage and fighting with her husband on her page. I had told this person the last time she did it to knock it off. Facebook is not your diary, and it could jeopardize your career. My co-worker at the trade show, a magazine publisher was listening in but had no comment.

A few hours later, the publisher I was working with asked me if I would like to sell advertising for her online magazine, which I had to decline because as a journalist, I tend to keep those things separate. Plus, it was a kids’ magazine, a target demo I know little about. That being said, I started to tell her about someone I knew who would be perfect. “This woman could sell sand at the beach,” I said, and I mentioned she had experience in broadcast advertising and had several kids of her own. She was looking for a work from home job. The magazine publisher was interested, but then I had to tell her the God’s honest truth. The person I was speaking about was the same person I spoke of earlier who was trashing her estranged husband all over Facebook. “No thanks,” said the publisher. “It sounds as if she has no boundaries. But thanks anyway.”

So there you have it. Just because you have a lot of friends on Facebook, and you think your page is private, it really isn’t. And if there’s one particular thing I learned at this convention is that “we all have a brand, whether we want one or not.” Don’t let your brand be tarnished by a foolish rant on Facebook. Every day is your job interview, and you have no idea how many opportunities are wasted because or your own self-published comments.

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The Foibles of Facebook

I was looking for a former colleague the other day on Facebook and lo and behold I found him! Before asking to “friend” him I looked at his profile, and discovered that he was married, and listed his wife’s Facebook page. Apparently you can easily do that with FB.

Out of curiosity I clicked on his wife’s page which was totally available to the public, including all her comments, private life, and even details of a recent doctor’s visit. I was concerned. Not only for her health, but for the career health of her husband. What if he’s looking for a new job? Employers can and will find this information. What most people don’t realize is that HR Directors are wondering “how many people are we going to have to insure with this hire?” along with any other related health issues, etc. Facebook is not the place to be posting your biopsy results.

According to a recent Workforce Management magazine article titled “Five Trends in Employee Screening,” there is more scrutiny by employers of social networking sites. This article was not posted online, so I don’t have a link.

Don’t let the “privacy” button on Facebook fool you either. You can still be tagged in photos, and your comments on your friend’s pages

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Don’t Lie About Your Job History on Linkedin

This morning I received my usual email notice from Linkedin telling me what my connections are up to in their career.  I like to know how my friends, clients, and former co-workers are doing and drop them a line when I hear about a promotion or new job.

The note this morning urged me to congratulate “John Doe” on his work anniversary of three years at a well-known company. John was a former supervisor of mine many years ago when I worked in radio, so I went to his profile and started looking through his work history. I found it odd that the station we  both worked at during that time was not even listed. Worse, he listed a different radio station and location altogether! This made me wonder why he would even take that chance. Was it an honest mistake, or did he purposely revise history thinking no one would be the wiser?

Here’s the problem. John had about 50 co-workers during his time at that job so there’s at least 50 people in our industry who could place him there during that time frame and not at the station he listed. Further, he contributed quotes to music publications that linked him to our station. And he was known by competitors in our market, so that adds even more who can refute his Linkedin job history.

Another concern is for those of us who worked with him. Granted, it was 20+ years ago, but if I ever wanted to use him as a reference, Linkedin shows him not working there at all, which brings up the question, “who’s telling the truth?”

You don’t need to list every job on Linkedin, especially those from 20 years ago. But to give the impression you worked elsewhere when you didn’t can easily be challenged. And should his current employer get wind of this, he could seriously jeopardize his job.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s no longer easy to fudge dates or your past. Don’t do it.

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Keep Your Job Search Confidential

I get this question from time to time as to whether you should let your co-workers and managers know you are are actively job searching or you have a job interview with another company. To that I reply, “NO!” Sometimes I’ll get push back that it’s the right thing to do, so the company can have more time finding a replacement. It’s an ideal concept, but one that backfires more often than not.

For one, your co-workers and managers will begin treating you differently. Here’s why. Imagine if you’re married, and you approach your spouse to let them know you are interested in playing the field, to see what else is out there. Or that you plan to leave the marriage 8 weeks from now. What do you think the response will be? And then what if your new love interest decides you’re not the one after all? It’s not that different when it comes to the job search. If you don’t find a new job right away, or perhaps you decide you’re better off staying put, do you think your employer will embrace you? Or question your loyalty?

You’re not off the hook if your unemployed either. Sure you can mention you’re looking for work, but leave it at that. Blasting information about upcoming or recent job interviews among friends, co-workers, or on social media can  backfire because it invites competition for the job (maybe your co-workers are also interested in fleeing the coop).

Moreover, I’ve seen the chronically unemployed continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to job searching and networking. These are the people who hang out in LinkedIn chat rooms and: lament about how tough the job market is, all they want is a job, and then when they get an interview they complain loudly about the asinine questions, or hurl insults about the interviewer. That’s just bad branding. And poor etiquette.

The job search is much like a poker game. Keep a straight face and keep your cards close to the vest. Don’t make it easy for your competitors to beat you.  Or your current boss to remove you from the table.

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Sharing your Facebook Password Violates Others’ Privacy

You’ve probably heard all the commotion regarding employers that are requesting Facebook passwords from job candidates so they can take a peek into their personal life. This would allow the hiring director to see what’s been posted, as well as personal photos, games played, articles read, and what is routinely “liked.” Facebook’s counsel is threatening legal action. However, our federal government has decided it’s not worth making a law over. Tuesday night, House Republicans blocked a bill to make it illegal for employers to request social media passwords. What concerns me most about this Facebook password debate is not so much letting a future employer see what I’m saying online. That I don’t care about, because I’m pretty careful for the most part about what I post. I know that Facebook isn’t all that private. But I have friends and colleagues who tend to be a bit outspoken on all sorts of topics. Some of them cross the line from time to time.  And while they aren’t the one’s relinquishing their passwords, they are in a sense, having their privacy violated.  Giving away my password, allows their profiles to be reviewed as well, probably without their knowledge. And that’s not fair to my Facebook brethren.

Plus, I have to ask, if employers can get away with this, what’s next? They already monitor our credit and our urine. Now they want to look at our Facebook conversations and photos of funny cats? Don’t be surprised if they ask you to hand over your checking account records so they can question a late night ATM withdrawal or debit card purchase. Or maybe they’ll seek permission from your grocer to see what you buy every week with that loyalty card of yours. Baby diapers? Pregnancy tests? Cigarettes? Beer? Where will it end?

It’s up to you if you want to hand over your password to a nosy employer. Remember, however, in doing so you are violating Facebook’s policy, and violating your friends’ privacy as well.

 

 

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My Love Hate Relationship with Facebook

I’ve been on Facebook now for about two years, and I’m hooked on it. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. You see, I have an eclectic group of friends whom I love dearly in many different ways, and know from different areas of my life, like high school, college, a handful of clients from the past 10 years, and people I know from roller skating. Facebook gives me visibility for my business. But it also sucks up a lot of my time. While I enjoy seeing what my friends are up to, I tend to see things I don’t want to see, like people arguing. eschewing heavy political discourse; you know those things you don’t discuss in polite company. 

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Ageism and the Online Job Application

I have a bone to pick with online job applications. How are companies remaining compliant with federal and state laws that prohibit asking a job seeker how how s/he is? If you’re as old as I am, you may remember the day of listing a date of birth on an official job application. Today’s documents now ask “Are you over the age of 18?” That’s a good start, but in today’s world you have to fill out these applications at the start of the job search, rather than after the interview. And that’s my beef.

The real problem I see is further down on these applications in the education section. It requires you to list your high school and the year you graduated. If you leave it blank your application may be rejected, assuming you can’t or won’t follow directions, or you are not that thorough when completing tasks. Why can’t it just ask “did you graduate?” Later, after it’s decided you’re a good fit for the company, then you can fill in the blanks for the background check.

I’m not sure how HR people get around this. They’re aware of the laws, and that it’s prohibited to ask a candidate’s age. Yet anyone able to do simple math can figure out that most people graduate high school around the age of 18. Add that to a graduation year of 1970 and it’s immediately known the job seeker is about 58 years old. In today’s society of ageism, that could pose a huge potential for age discrimination and subsequent lawsuits.

The online application needs to be refined to remain in compliance with hiring laws. I hope the folks at SHRM are paying attention.

— Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

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Keep Your Resume off the Company Copier

Have you ever photocopied your resume (or taxes) or any other private information using your company copier? If you’re required to punch in a code and your copier is attached to a computer network — BEWARE! Your boss can monitor everything you photo copy or print out from your computer.

I spoke to a former copier salesman today and we discussed this very issue. He told me that supervisors, HR departments, or anyone who monitors your company’s copier activities can have access to everything you photo copy. Do you really want them to know about your personal assets? Or that you’re brushing up your resume? Filing a bankruptcy or selling your home? Probably not.

Photocopies come cheap at places like FedEx (formerly Kinkos) or your local Office Max. You can also  buy a printer/scanner and do all these activities in the privacy of your own home.

This tip is provided by 1st Rate Resumes.

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Protect Your Privacy Online – OPT OUT!

One of the biggest questions I hear from clients when I deliver a resume is “why isn’t my address listed?” I leave out the address to protect your privacy (as best I can these days) although I can only do so much.

Thanks to websites like zillow.com I can find out how much you paid for your house, when you bought it, and if it’s for sale. Over at ZabaSearch.com I can find out your approximate age and month of birth along with your current and previous addresses, and phone numbers.

I can look at your home from an aerial view and front at maps.google.com. And now Spokeo will tell the world that you subscribe to magazines and that you like shopping and gardening.

All of this information can really put a dent in your job search. Hiring Managers should not be able to determine how much your home is worth, or what it looks like when it comes to hiring you. And few HR Managers would even admit they surf around online about a candidate, because technically they’re not supposed to. But does it stop them? Something to ponder.

There is a way to take back your privacy. Intelius.com requires proof of identity, such as a state issued ID card or driver’s license. The process takes 6-8 weeks.

At Spokeo, click on the privacy button at the bottom of their home page and follow the directions to opt out. This takes effect almost immediately.

For Zaba Search, I had a hard time finding the opt out rules, but did run across a blog with not only information on how to remove it, but includes a sample letter as well.

If find any other sites that reveal too much information, feel free to share it here.

–Susan Geary, CPRW / 1st Rate Resumes