As companies cut back on staff travel because of budget concerns, some are holding their meetings in cyberspace. More than 1400 organizations, including IBM and IEEE, are meeting in the Second Life virtual community. Second Life allows users to create digital avatars of themselves and interact with each other. Users can make PowerPoint presentations, chat with other virtual attendees using audio or text, and share electronic files.
Are virtual meetings a good idea? What is your experience with them?
Responses to January’s Question
Not for Your Eyes Only
In a recent Harris Interactive survey, 45 percent of human resources professionals acknowledged using social networking Web sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to vet job candidates, and 11 percent more said they plan to do so soon. Also, 35 percent reported they declined to hire someone after checking an applicant’s page and finding such things as provocative photos, indications of alcohol or drug use, and comments bad-mouthing former employers.
Are you concerned that your online information could hinder your chances for a job? Is it fair that employers are using social networking sites to screen job candidates?
Not for Me
Is the average person so naive that he or she doesn’t consider privacy when joining social networks? I categorically refuse to join “mytwitface,” or even LinkedIn. I have a real life and prefer actual telephone calls and face-to-face conversations. But I guess these days that’s considered "old school."
Think Before You Post
Why shouldn’t checking job candidates’ or employees’ social networks be considered fair game for current or prospective employers? Job seekers should be willing to stand behind anything they say, even on social networking sites.
Mississauga, Ont., Canada
Use It, Don’t Abuse It
I don’t have any concern about the information I post, because in most cases it’s available to the public. Blogs and other information in a public forum can reveal a person’s character. Certainly how people behave online should be used as an indication of who they would be as employees. Human resources staff members are welcome to public information if it’s obtained without deceit. However, HR staffers who approach a social networking site using false names or misrepresenting their intent should be reprimanded or fired.
Switch to “Private”
This screening tactic has been public knowledge for some time now. People should take it in stride as part of the job-search process. If I had personal information online that I thought might scare away employers, I would set my profile to private while job searching.
Since Facebook’s inception I’ve been concerned enough about HR departments using social networking sites to screen job candidates that I restrict access to my information only to friends I’ve met in the real world. I understand all too well that information online may easily be found and exploited. Unfortunately, the real problem is that other people can post things about me, and I have no control over that.
Ultimately, any information you post about yourself so it’s accessible is fair game for potential employers to find and evaluate. However, I’d caution HR personnel not to give significant weight to what they find on social networking sites except in the most egregious examples of unruly behavior.
Represent the Company
In the end, the goal of searching social networks is to hire good candidates. If the image given by a prospective employee can affect the company, it’s only fair if the online behavior of a candidate influences the company’s view of that person.
Mario De Weerd