Watch What You Tweet!

    Want a job? Watch what you tweet

    Social networking faux pas are no longer the domain of college students and recent grads — established workers need to mind manners, too.

    By David Phelp

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

    Rose McKinney recalls one job can­didate who blogged and tweeted her­self directly out of a job interview.

    This was not an entry-level job or a rookie mistake. The potential job po­sition was a mid-level account man­ager. The candidate was experienced.

    “On paper she looked solid, some­one worth talking to,” said McKinney, president of Risdall McKinney Public Relations in Minneapolis. “But on blog spaces and in Twitter conversa­tions she was negative and critical of other agencies. I imagined what she would say about us and our clients.”

    Electronic faux pas were once considered the legacy of college stu­dents and 20-somethings who would post beer-sodden pictures of them­selves and friends on MySpace. But with the rapid advance of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter from phenom­enon to near-obligation for multiple generations, employers are learning that grownups can be just as knuck­leheaded as freshly scrubbed college grads when it comes to leaving digital impressions.

    Amy Langer, co-founder of Salo, a placement firm for the financial ser­vices sector, had one job candidate for a controller’s position who didn’t ge t the job after the employer took displeasure with a negative political posting on the candidate’s Facebook site.

    “It’s becoming part of the vetting process,” Langer said. “It makes sense. Social networking was all about personal posts, but now it’s leaked over to the pro­fessional side and nobody knows how to handle it.”

    “The mistake people make is they pour too much of them­selves out there,” said Gil­lian Gabriel, a headhunter for ad­vertising and marketing agencies who looks at LinkedIn postings as well as Facebook and Twitter when evaluat­ing prospects. “They talk about per­sonal issues — divorce, sick parents, recovery programs. If someone is hav­ing a big issue in life, are you going to take that chance (and hire them)?”

    Gabriel said one job candidate with whom she had contact went to her LinkedIn network after she didn’t get an agency job and described a scenario where her ideas were at odds with the agen­cy’s.

    “She made a poor deci­sion,” said Gabriel, who was part of the candidate’s LinkedIn network. “Not only didn’t she get the job but she publicly pegged herself as a bit of a trou­blemaker.”

    David Ger­witz, an au­thor who specializes in technology and security issues, said so­cial networkers need to realize that their electronic entries will last for years and years.

    “Every tweet, every post is being actively indexed by different search engines,” Gerwitz said. “It’s going to be available in perpetuity.”

    Sometimes it may not be what you post, but what someone else posts on Professionals is devoting its fall meeting in October to the topic.

    “The biggest problem is if you are on the Internet with personal infor­mation, hiring managers are going to see it,” said Donna Ploof, a member of the chapter’s board of directors. “If you’re bragging about drinking at a party, that might not be a good thing — for yourself or your company.”

    Hiring managers say they often gain access to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn through friends of friends. Often a job applicant is already linked to someone at a company where a job is being sought or belongs to profes­sional groups to which an employer already has access.

    “In the business of networking, people know people,” Langer said. “You have to decide what you want your social media face to be. It’s like talking in an elevator. You don’t know who’s listening.”

    In an instance of reverse network­ing , McKinney had one job applicant who became virtual friends with as many current Risdall McKinney em­ployees as possible, thinking that would give him an in when inter view­ing . It had the opposite impact.

    “It was too much,” McKinney said. It seemed a bit too aggressive. It was overkill. Interviewing is not a group e xercise. It requires some professional decorum.”

    T he candidate was not hired for the mid-level job.

    “It’s a subtle skill to job-hunt,” Ga­briel said. “Every employer has 200 applications on the desk. They want to go with the option where you know you won’t have a problem.”