Education Career Services

September 3, 2009

Students Beware: Big Brother is Watching

September 03, 2009Today began similar to most every morning. I sat on the back porch, made a cup of hot tea (no sugar), and read the paper.  Granted, nothing special thus far worthy of a mention in today’s blog.  But (and here we go) within the local section I happened to notice an article written by Dave Weber (Sentinel Staff Writer).  Catching my attention was the title:

“New teacher loses job over blog”

Leading me to ask several questions: Should blogs, Internet submissions, social websites be used as a tool for employers to terminate an employee?  Even prior to the job offer, should these aforementioned mediums be used during a hiring decision?

Are you beginning to get an idea as to where this is going?  

According to the article, the individual in question submitted a blog “laced with four-letter words”  Seems like Seminole county does not appreciate four-letter words (a good reminder when dealing with that county). It appears that after pressure, the instructor “resigned after school district officials threatened to fire him.”  The article goes on to state that “blog entries during college days in Gainesville and more recently were peppered with profanity.  One talks about using fake urine he purchased to pass a drug test for him.”

Without discussing the merits of this situation, most people would agree with the idea that this individual may not be the perfect person to guide and mentor our young.  I’ll trust in the court systems helping hand to balance that issue.  What is at stake is: Does an employer have the right to apply pressure on an existing employee (or eliminate employment considerations) based upon completely nonrelated elements?  I wonder how many college students (heck, high school students as well) submit items electronically only to find those words used against them. 

It is my belief that the moral of this article is to inform students, the unemployed, and the employed to be careful of what is posted and come to understand big brother is not only watching, but is also taking notes!

In the end remember the definer of whom and what you are resides in perception.  In other words, employers wanting to see the “real” you (if there truly is such a thing) will dig, will turn over rocks, and will scratch and sniff until they are satisfied.  In our world of instant knowledge, the person with the shovel determines reality…consequently; do not muddy the water with rash outbursts.

Once written, it can not be un-written. In typical fashion, I would like your input on this topic…

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

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2 Comments »

  1. In some situations I think it is valid for employers to reference potential job candidate’s facebook pages or blogs… I wrote a post where I spoke about the dangers of facebook pictures and looking for jobs. Here is a link to the post- http://woesofacollegegrad.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/ill-drink-to-that-just-please-dont-put-the-picture-on-facebook/

    I dont talk about this in the post because I couldnt find the article I wanted to reference- but I heard about a teenager who was expelled from Catholic school because teachers saw pictures of him cross-dressing on his facebook page…. I think thats where the line gets crossed

    Comment by laurenabra — September 3, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

  2. I agree with the crossing of a line with the high school student. As an employer, I worry about litigation when it comes to reviewing blogs, facebook, etc. and using that information to not hire an individual. Then again, what does an employer do when he or she views inappropriate pictures or reads bits of information taken out of context. Does this cross the legal hiring practice line as well? Think about a single mother who proudly shines pictures of her children only to find out a potential employer does not hire her because she is a single mother. I think the can of worms is going to become out of control—students need to know the consequence of their action and that employers often do disqualify a qualified candidate based upon facebook pictures.

    Comment by careersi — September 3, 2009 @ 7:34 pm


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