You would be surprised how much information about you is publically available and is also
used by companies to target their products at you.
Let us imagine that Mark is a 20-something who enjoys using a popular social networking site. He has done what the people behind the site have said and fully completed his profile
information including his address, mobile phone number and his date of birth. There is also information added about his family and friends and he has also put photographs on there from his last ‘lads weekend’ in Prague. He has allowed anybody to read his profile without restriction as recommended by the site and regularly posts on there his thoughts on where he works and his colleagues.
Mark decides that he wants to change jobs and finding the job he has always wanted as a
games programmer, applies to them. When the company receive his application they decide to look into his background and, as part of this process, they make a search on the social networking sites. They discover Mark’s pages and profile and note that he has not taken any security measures to protect his identity. They also see his photographs on there and find that there are some very controversial ones taken in Prague when Mark had had a bit too much to drink.
They then read his comments and see what he has been saying about the company he currently works for and note they are less than favourable and that he is also not very complementary about his colleagues. Based on all this they decide not to invite Mark for interview and write back to him telling him so.
Now, some of you may feel indignant that this company searched through his personal pages on the social network site but I am afraid this is what a lot of employers now do.
So how can you stop this from happening to you?
First, make sure you only put on a minimal amount of information about you, your family and your social life.
Secondly, restrict the access to your profile by ensuring it is only friends that can see what you have written and also your photos. This prevents people prying into your private life and means that prospective employers cannot use anything you do not want them to see.
Third, make sure you do not ‘slag off’ your company and colleagues in public like this, it is easy to find what you have written even from using a simple search engine as it is all electronically held and is therefore open to access via the internet.
Finally, do not publish photos of you or your family that are not complementary, by doing
this you can prevent any accidental exposure through an image seeking search engine.