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Post or Banish to the Bin?

It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard of Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace…not to mention the many alternatives for these virtual social networking giants, like Jaiku and FriendFeed, but how should these networking sites be used? Post anything and everything, or should some content be banished to the recycle bin?

Keep in mind, Kevin Weil, who works on Twitter’s analytic team, recently reported Twitter sends out 50 million tweets per day, which is an average of 600 tweets per second. Facebook and MySpace statistics vary from different sources, but millions of people are involved. Social networking has become a global get-together, and it can be a wonderful experience if handled with care.

It should not come as a surprise that many employers utilize the Internet to do background checks on potential employees and this includes any publically posted content on Twitter, Facebook, and/or MySpace, plus any other Internet sites that allow individuals to post information and photographs.

You may believe personal postings on the above sites should not be counted as relevant information on a background check, but think again. Everything on the Internet not protected by privacy settings is there for the taking by friends, families, enemies, and employers. If you’re not cautious, you may be your own worst enemy when it comes to finding a new job, or simply keeping the wonderful job you now have. If you care about the image you’ve set up on the Internet, read the tips below and think about how you are perceived.

Tips for Social Networking Websites (When all content posted is made available to the entire world.)

  • Do not, no matter how tempting it is, badmouth your current or past employer
  • Never lie about your education, qualifications, or experience
  • Dispose of the urge to post or link to sites that are inappropriate or appear illegal
  • Do not make public too much personal contact information (an email address works fine)
  • Be polite—do not post email addresses or contact information of people you know without their permission
  • Big, HUGE tip: Do not ever post photos that will embarrass anyone. (Life is short, so be good to yourself and others. Photos of drunkenness, partying, and lewd/criminal behavior could make an employer go elsewhere.)
  • In regard to the last tip, you may also lose a friend if photos or remarks are posted that cause embarrassment. Private parties and photos need to be kept private.
  •  Consider your username/screen names. A username like topthief or murderman may have ill consequences. Those names might have been created in jest, but an employer may not laugh.
  • If you don’t want potential employers involved in your Internet networking sites, set your privacy settings accordingly.
  • Think about having a professional site for work (LinkedIn) and other accounts set on private for friends and family.

 Twitter

  • Decide if you want one account for both work and friends/family
  • Tweet, but don’t tweet obsessively. Some people will drop you if you post 500 tweets a day.
  • If your account is public, realize who you follow says something about you
  • Post your bio even though it will be short
  • If you’re posting on behalf of your profession or company, link to another source (blog or website) that provides more information
  • Retweet interesting information…sharing is always good! That’s one of the best things about these global communities
  • Laughter is good medicine, so if you can pass along something humorous…go for it!
  • Make sure your links work if included in the tweet
  • Take time to read and visit the links from your followers
  • Never tweet your exact location, time, or schedule

 If you have a fantastic social networking tip, please leave a comment. Thanks for visiting!

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