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Monday, May 21, 2007


www.roggenbuck.us

Anthony Roggenbuck, a recent Lawrence Tech grad, created a site to market himself to employers.

Be careful online: The boss is watching

With a click, employers can weed out job candidates gone wild on Web sites

Eric Morath / The Detroit News

www.myspace.com

"I don't have anything to hide," says MSU grad Katie Lamoreaux of her MySpace profile. See full image

Not just your space

Tips from university career counselors on appropriate use of MySpace pages and personal Web sites:
  • Don't post anything you wouldn't want your mother, or future boss, to see.
  • Especially avoid illegal and unsavory images: binge drinking, drug use, partially nude photos.
  • Monitor whether others are using your name and displaying photos of you on their sites.
  • Highlight positives such as work experience, community involvement and course work.
    Sources: Lawrence Technological University, Michigan State University, Wayne State University

    Related Articles and Links

    See full image

     

  • Drugs, alcohol and job searching are a cocktail most would want to avoid, but it's one that many college students and recent graduates may unwittingly be sampling as employers search MySpace, Facebook and other social networking Web pages to weed out job candidates.

    Career counselors and recruiters stress to job seekers that what happens in college doesn't stay in college when they post inappropriate photos and blog on public Web sites.

    "Some students have not been selected for a job because of info found on a public site," said Brenda Paine, director of career planning and placement at Wayne State University's school of business. Some 27 percent of employers say they "Googled" or reviewed candidate profiles on social networking sites, according to a 2006 National Association of Colleges and Employers survey.

    It doesn't take much browsing through www.myspace.com to find images of drinking parties, obscene gestures, scantily clad female students and references to drug use.

    In a world where many twentysomethings have chosen to make the details of their personal lives a click away for anyone, some young job seekers in a competitive market are refining their sites to remove common college activities that may sour employers.

    Schools are taking action as well. Wayne State conducted a seminar on the pitfalls of social networking pages, and Michigan State University sets an example by banning student groups from displaying photos with alcohol in them on university Web pages.

    "We tell (students) to Google themselves and see what comes up," Paine said. "They need to be aware of what content is on their sites, and their friends' sites, and know that employers have access."

    Aware that employers are increasingly using social networking sites to peer into candidates' personal lives, Liz Kelly adjusted her Facebook page ahead of her job search last year.

    A 2006 University of Michigan grad, Kelly removed a few photos and made others accessible only to friends.

    "There was nothing on there I felt was objectionable, but I didn't like the idea of employers looking into my social life," she said.

    She landed a job as an events coordinator at a Chicago law firm, but other students haven't keep their noses, or their Web pages, as clean, and it's costing them employment.

    Not all feel their sites need to be changed. Katie Lamoreaux, a graduating senior at Michigan State University, said she has been careful with her MySpace page ever since she created it.

    Her site features pictures of her at football games and out to dinners with student groups, news about her graduation and thoughts on her future plans. The retail management senior has accepted a job with Target Corp.

    "It's a reflection of myself, and I don't have anything to hide," she said. "I do think employers understand we're in college."

    Accentuate the positive

    Employers such as General Motors Corp., Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Union-Pacific have spoken to students and MSU officials about the pitfalls of questionable MySpace sites, said Geoffrey Humphrys, director of the Lear Career Service Center at MSU's college of business.

    "This information is not private, it's out there, and companies have a right to search it," he said. "Students need to be careful about what they put out there and make sure it doesn't hurt their integrity."

    But he said some students are turning personal Web sites into an advantage.

    "If you're going to use these sites, put positive information out there," he said. "Show your involvement in different activities and groups, highlight your work expertise and always be accurate."

    Anthony Roggenbuck, a recent graduate of Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, created his site to help market himself to employers.

    "It's more beneficial than a plain resume," he said. "I wanted to give more information and show pictures and better details of the projects I worked on."

    Creating his own site, www.roggenbuck.us, allowed him to be free of advertisements and unwanted postings that can come with MySpace. The site features Roggenbuck's resume, transcript and photos of him working and having fun -- like flying over waves on a wakeboard.

    Firms avoid hiring mistakes

    Content doesn't have to be raunchy to catch an employer's eye. Brent Ray, president and CEO of SurplusTrack, said his company Googles prospective candidates, mostly computer programmers. The Ann Arbor-based technology company is mainly looking for online portfolios and Web-based projects, but does occasionally encounter social networking pages.

    "It gives us insight into their capabilities and their history," he said.

    "Being a smaller company, we don't have the resources to pay a third party to do that work."

    Ray said one candidate appeared to be a good fit for an opening, but searching references to his work online gave a different answer.

    "We found the candidate didn't have the level of authority or the skills that he claimed on his resume," he said. "(Searching) prevented us from making a mistake."

    You can reach Eric Morath at (313) 222-2504 or emorath@detnews.com.

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