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A Closer Look: Facebook may mar even the best of resumes


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A Closer Look: Facebook may mar even the best of resumes

Employers’ use of Web site to unearth information could hurt students’ chances of getting hired

By Derek Lipkin



Questionable comments about underage drinking, stories of skylarking and, sometimes, not the most flattering photos. These and more can all be found throughout Facebook profiles of UCLA students.

Scrolling through hundreds of pages, students can peruse the profiles of most of their schoolmates, searching through photo upon photo, group by group, name by name.

But though these profiles may be a fun diversion for students, their content could cost some students a shot at employment.

Employers are beginning to use sites such as Facebook to access personal information of candidates for employment, said Kathy Sims, director of the UCLA Career Center.

And not all employers are pleased with what they find.

Sims said there have been several cases of employers rescinding job offers to student candidates because of information obtained through Facebook.

She said employers will find content they determine to be less than professional or inappropriate, and many students do not realize the consequences.

But though some employers may use the Web site as a source of negative press for applicants, companies also use Facebook to solicit job offers to students.

One such company is Teach for America, an organization that employs students from across the country to teach in urban and rural areas.

Todd McGovern, a spokesman for Teach for America, said his organization does have advertisements on Facebook, but that the organization does not use the Web site to evaluate or obtain information about applicants.

But for those companies who do use Facebook to check up on applicants, the questionable content is not limited to racy photos or foul language.

Among other typically inappropriate forms of content, Sims said one case involved the political views in the student's profile, including statements that suggested breaking the law.

"Online behavior can impact (students') career options," Sims said.

Sims said many alumni who work at companies can use school e-mails to access Facebook, since the site requires members to have a school e-mail account from the specified school.

At UCLA, all alumni are guaranteed their e-mail addresses for life.

Pearl Esau, the recruitment director for UCLA and USC at Teach for America, said the application process for the organization is very intense and thorough. Esau added that she would hope that any and all pertinent information about applicants would come out during that process, making Facebook research an unnecessary exercise.

She said information in Facebook profiles is not considered when determining whether a candidate would be hired.

Several other employers who post job offers on BruinView, the UCLA Career Center database, were contacted but were unable to comment on their employment practices.

Sims said that at a recent career conference she attended, all the companies represented at the conference knew of Facebook and had accessed it at different times and for different reasons.

She said one way they use Facebook is to double-check against any false pretense about applicants.

"They want to believe they made a good decision," Sims said.

Sims added that, even though there is the possibility that Facebook profiles can have a negative effect on chances of student candidates for jobs, she has been in contact with career counselors at other schools, and finds UCLA has less issues in regards to inappropriate Facebook profiles.

"Maybe UCLA students are too smart for that," she said.

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