Employers looks at Facebook

Facebook addicts beware: According to a document sent to campus Career Center directors nationwide, potential employers have begun to use this online forum to conduct a sort of background check on applicants.

“So far we haven’t seen a problem with this on our campus,” Career Center Director Drema Howard said. “None of the employers we work with have asked about it yet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t employers in the Tampa Bay area who are using it.”

Facebook.com is a nationwide directory of high school and college students used to connect with others and foster friendships. Students can post pictures, comment about other profiles and perform general searches for other students. In order for any person to access another’s account, they must first register using their student e-mail account.

Both Howard and Dan VanHoose, assistant director of the Career Center, agree that while nothing has been reported about students on USF’s campus losing jobs, everyone should be aware of the situation.

According to VanHoose, the idea was discussed at a meeting and information was readily available about the Web site so the Career Center’s staff could be fully informed.

“I gave them the heads up that if it should come up, we need to address that employers are knowledgeable and do have access,” VanHoose said.While Facebook can be harmless when used with restraint, many students choose to post pictures of themselves drinking or performing sexual or illegal acts. There are also a slew of user groups involving drinking, drugs and sex that anyone can join.

“We aren’t saying there is anything wrong with the concept,” Howard said.

“We realize that all the students are adults, but we are trying to give them a heads up and make them aware.”

Senior Stephanie Smith doesn’t agree with the idea of employers being able to check student’s information via the Web site.

“That is our college life, not our adult life,” Smith said. “Who is to say that we haven’t changed by that time? I doubt every employer I would interview with didn’t do at least some of those same things when they were our age.”

Howard has some advice for those who follow that school of thought, however.

“If you put something of very personal nature out there, you lose your right to choose who has access to it,” Howard said. “You can actually negate yourself as a professional to an employer.”

According to Facebook.com, if students don’t want others to have access to their information, they can change their personal security settings. Settings can range from allowing everyone at your school to view your profile to only those who you deem as your friends. Students are also able to cancel their account at anytime.

For more information about employment and techniques used by employers, the Career Center can be reached at (813) 974-2171.