Please submit: Cover letter, resume, Facebook profile

By Emma Gallegos

Increased media coverage as well as anecdotal evidence suggest that Facebook has become an appealing resource to employers who want to find out more about job and internship candidates.

Those outside of academia can now more easily access such information since Facebook expanded its reach this week it began allowing those without “.edu” e-mail addresses.

“When you go into a job interview you have to think about it as handing in both your resume and a copy of your [Facebook] profile,” said John Mountain, Associate Director for the Career Development Center (CDC).
There is no way of knowing precisely how often employers and hiring managers look up job candidates’ profiles online, but Mountain, who worked in human resources before coming to Macalester, said that it would be dependent largely upon their ability to gain access to the network and also their comfort in visiting a site created primarily as a student social network.

In his work at the CDC, Mountain has yet to hear any anecdotes from Macalester students being “Facebooked” by prospective employees. However, Denise Ward, Director of Student Services at Macalester, who was quoted in a Star Tribune article last April on the issue, said that one of her son’s friends was asked to open the Facebook profile of a fellow student applying to the company where he was interning.
Mountain said that anecdotal evidence is all that is available, because it is likely that any statistics that do exist would understate the prevalence of the trend. Many employers would not want to admit that they are looking at profiles as a part of their application process.
Ward also pointed out that employers may not admit to using Facebook or other internet sources, because there are legal ramifications. For instance, job candidates could claim that they were being discriminated against because of race, religion or anything else disclosed on a profile that is not legal to require on an application.

This means that even a candidate would not know if a prospective employer had used a Facebook profile as a part of its application process, because, unlike a background check, checking a profile requires no signature or permission from the applicant.

As Ward’s story suggests, the likelihood of an employer looking up a candidate’s profile online increases if other students or alumni with a .edu e-mail address from the college work at the company.

Mountain mentions this to students who come to him for advice on applying for a job. He also suggests that students rethink the messages that they might send to employers through other venues. He said he asks students to look through the lens of an employer at their Facebook or Myspace profile, blogs, anything that might come up with their name in a Google search, as well as the message on their voicemail or the name of their personal e-mail account.

Other venues aimed at raising awareness of the issue include a recent flyer put out jointly from the Macalester Student Affairs Division, the Library and Information Technology Services. The flyer has a graphic of an imagined student named Michelle who is part of groups including “Beer is my water” and “I drink alone.” The flyer asks, “Would you want your next employer to see this? Be thoughtful about what you post online.”

The flyer and other efforts are contributing to a growing awareness among students that they should more carefully monitor what they put online.

Erin Gullikson ’07 said she began thinking more carefully about what she put on her profile after talking to her brother, a student at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said her brother’s coaches warned him that as an athlete, he needs to consider his high-profile status on campus when thinking about what to put on his Facebook profile.

Additionally, several media outlets, including The New York Times, have raised awareness of the issue, prompting parents such as senior Maureen Ragalie’s, to warn her about the possible consequences of a risqué profile.

Seniors thinking about entering careers in fields in which their behavior might undergo public scrutiny have already been taking active steps to make sure their profile would be presentable to potential employers.
For instance, Natalia Espejo ’07, who is considering a career in public policy, said she has made sure that her profile is visible only to her friends. Katherine Foley ’07, who is considering a career in medicine, said she has made sure from the moment that she got her Facebook account that there are no pictures or content that would reflect badly upon her or harm her chances of getting a job with a prospective employer.

Facebook expansions in the past year may make it easier for employers to locate the profiles of candidates who do not restrict who may view their profile. The most recent expansion that took place this week opened up Facebook to the public and allows any users who have a valid e-mail address to join regional networks.

Earlier this year, the network opened up to invited high school students and later allowed people to join networks so that they could view the profiles of other students within their region.

Top Groups to Join Before You Apply For a Job I have never smoked weed!! (and don’t plan to do so)
I’m a virgin and proud to be one!
Friday Night Sober Club
Smoking is Dumb and Gross
Cheap Smart Hotties with a Conscience
Vegetables: Low in fat, high in fiber
Top Groups to Remove From Your Groups List
I’m Gonna Go to Hell When I Die
Club Lazy
I should be a member of AA
Mac Meth
Sometimes I smoke? Fuck that — sometimes I study!
4:20

(The above are actual Macalester Facebook groups)