By Richard Martorello, SMC Member

Diane Stafford wrote in an August 2011 article printed in the Fresno Bee about Internet immaturity can hurt your job prospects.

On March 20, 2012, written in many newspapers across the country and found online on many newspaper websites and search engines was a news article titled “Some employers are asking job applicants for Facebook username, password.”

It would appear some companies and public government agencies are wanting to take a peek at social profiles of applicants and employees. These organizations want to see more than just the public profile viewable online. They want to see an individual’s private profile as well and are going so far as to ask for a username and password to get this access.

There is a new practice by managers where they are reviewing publicly available profiles to learn more about job candidates on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Some companies are asking applicants to “friend” human resource managers.

Chief Deputy Rusty Thomas, from the Sheriff’s Department of McLean County, Illinois, defended the practice, saying applicants have a right to refuse. But no one has ever done so. Thomas said that “speaks well of the people we have apply.”

When asked what sort of material would jeopardize job prospects, Thomas said “it depends on the situation” but could include “inappropriate pictures or relationships with people who are underage, illegal behavior.”

“In the past, we’ve talked to friends and neighbors, but a lot of times we found that applicants interact more through social media sites than they do with real friends,” said Captain Mike Harvey, Spotsylvania County, Va., Sheriff’s Department. “Their virtual friends will know more about them than a person living 30 yards away from them.”

Harvey said investigators look for any “derogatory” behavior that could damage the agency’s reputation.

E. Chandlee Bryan, a career coach and co-author of the book “The Twitter Job Search Guide,” said job seekers should always be aware of what’s on their social media sites and assume someone is going to look at it.

Management guru Tom Peters, as reported by Stafford, warned years ago that we each are “the brand called you.” What message does your online brand send?

Learn more about how social media may work for you at Merced College and its new Social Media Club.

– “Internet immaturity can hurt your job prospects,” Diane Stafford, The Fresno Bee, August 17, 2011
– “Some employers are asking job applicants for Facebook username, password”, The Associated Press, The Star-Ledger (,

The views and opinions expressed here are not those of Merced College