Online social networking killing your career?

By Curt Autry - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Listen up college seniors -- your MySpace or Facebook page could keep you from landing your first, big job. Job placement experts say, cleaning up your website should be priority #1.

We conducted an experiment with a class of VCU students, and without their knowledge, closely examined what they're putting out there, online about themselves, and in some instances that information can be a real deal breaker.

It was a prestigious internship that one in a thousand college students might land. For any business major, a summer at the American branch of the Anglo-Irish Bank would be a big deal.

But Kevin Colvin kept calling in sick. Here's one of his e-mails he says "Paul/Jill - I just wanted to let you know that I will not be able to come to work tomorrow. Something came up at home and I had to go to New York this morning for the next couple of days. I apologize for the delayed notice. Kind regards, Kevin."

But the very next day somebody in the office noticed a picture of Kevin, with a beer in one hand, and a fairy wand in the other, was posted on his Facebook page, with descriptions of what a wonderful time he had at the costume party.

His boss e-mailed back, "Kevin, Thanks for letting us know. Hope everything is okay in New York.....(cool wand)."

This is a journalism class at VCU. We showed them the picture of Kevin and all agreed that anything on the internet was fair game and that Kevin got what he deserved.

The class also agreed that pictures we find on Facebook and MySspace are fair game for journalists and can be broadcast in news stories on TV. But what they don't know is, we've been investigating them. There was a collective groan from the class when they found out we'd been looking at their websites, reading their stories, and viewing their pictures.

And to make matters worse we had pictures from their sites, in some cases, embarrassing pictures.

There was interesting information online, on about half the class. But poor Juliette Delp seemed to take the brunt of our investigation and she was very good natured about it. It was nothing terribly embarrassing, but even she admits it's time to re-think what she has posted for the world to see.

"I wouldn't want an employer reading that 'I like to be stupid, I just wanna sit around all day and not do anything', cuz that's not really good. But I mean, I put myself out there so you had the right to look at all my stuff," said Juliette Delp.

And in this tight job market the experts agree, clean up your cyber footprint.

"If there's anything on there that doesn't present you as a hard working, dependable, reliable employee it needs to come down," said Cathy McCarthy form

And the experts suggest you also police your friends and relatives to make sure they're not sharing embarrassing pictures or information about you on their social networking sites.

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