The Internet is an extremely transparent platform. Earlier this month, a Texas teen tweeted frustration about her new job and was fired before she even started.
Many people do not even think about the reality that the Internet is primarily a public form of communication.
“I think in a sense people are so desperate to be recognized and validated that they would take a chance with something that might not be private,” said Daniel Andreae, a psychology professor at University of Guelph-Humber.
“Peoples’ needs end up winning over rationality in terms of what could happen with their posts,” he said.
Employers truly care about what happens on the Internet because of the importance of the statement “perception is reality,” said Andreae.
“Employers want to get to know their employees in a more in-depth way than their resume portrays,” said Humber career advisor Christine Colosimo.
“Over 80 per cent of employers are recruiting through social media, so the importance of having a professional social media presence is at the top of the priority list,” she said.
Some companies do not even use social media but are still concerned about their online image.
“Poor representation of an employee on social media can make a company look bad. It gives an unfavourable impression of the staff hired and in turn, the company’s credibility,” said Darren Parkes, owner of Parkaire Systems Inc., a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning company (HVAC) in Brampton.
“Customers want to know that you have hired professional staff so they feel confident,” he said. “Poor choices by staff which are seen on social media may promote an unprofessional image for the company.”
Colosimo said for anyone who has lost a job because of his or her online image that it’s important to be honest about what happened.
“Say that it was a stupid mistake and that you’ve learned from it and will not do it again,’” she said.
The Humber Career Centre organizes social media “boot camp” to help students create professional online images to improve their career prospects.
In many cases the Internet can be fun and allow people to connect and network with friends and other contacts. However, in reality, experts say posting online is the same as yelling something out loud in the middle of a crowded room.