Commentary

What's in a profile?

In reading articles/blogs last week, I noticed a lot of talk about Facebook in the professional world. Being completely embedded in undergraduate academia, this was news to me—but very, very cool. See, everything I hear about breaking into the “real world” is that you should delete Facebook/MySpace pages immediately or the contents therein will be scrutinized by a team of admissions/HR people, you will never get your dream job and be miserable for the rest of your life. As someone who is getting ready to be that little fish in the big pond, I would be interested to hear what you guys think…

There are two sides to this argument:

I can see the logic behind removing any/all information from these social networks. A quick glance through profiles will easily offer pictures, quotes, interests which should be edited before any employer sees the contents. For me, I guess I’ve always assumed that the second I start applying for law school, my fairly substantial profile will be “reinvented”…

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Favorite Books: Sandra Day O’Connor’s biography
Interests: justice, peace and a more consistent patent review process
Favorite movies: The Paper Chase, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
… and so on …

BUT, these networks are so common (even more so than I realized) that it might seem suspicious not to have one. Literally, every student I personally know has Facebook. The depth of their profile and the time spent there varies, but it would be weird not to be apart of this network. Not to mention that this is the perfect space to show a little bit of one’s personality outside of the workplace, something which might set you apart from the other thousands of applications.

So, for you professionals out there, do you guys really care about our profiles? Could our favorite movie get us a job? Because these profiles are so common, will it look suspicious if we don't have a profile? And, if we do delete ourselves from the web space, will we inevitably rejoin once we're safely hired?

7 comments about "What's in a profile?".
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  1. Celeste Johnson, June 25, 2007 at 11:43 a.m.

    I think a safe move would be to make your profile private. Taking it down all together is just ridiculous. Just think also about your google juice--even this post will come up when (and you will be searched) your name is searched for....

  2. Sankar Patel from BSSP, June 25, 2007 at 11:47 a.m.

    How long before the smart ones start tayloring their profile pages to be extentions of their resumes?

  3. Sean Mulholland, June 25, 2007 at 12:12 p.m.

    Well if LinkedIn counts it's already happening - some have blown out the profiles to be full fledged resumes! There's even video resumes on YouTube put up by jobseekers.

    As for social networking, I for one subscribe to the line of thought that many people will simply not care (much) about your pages unless you look like you're a meth addict or something at that level. Personally I would rather work with a fun person than a suit. Then again, I work in the ad business in San Francisco...liberal industry in a liberal city.

    I'm sure if you have political aspirations, want to be a teacher, or something along those lines it becomes much more important to be discreet, but if there's a picture of you holding a beer I highly doubt it will derail your career. Also, to some degree you don't want to paint a picture to an employer that's not really you just to get a job - you could end up hating the job and disappointing the employer. That's why I always wear denim to interviews. I don't want to sell myself as a suit when I have no intention of ever wearing one.

    Still, I agree that you should just make the profile private and leave it at that...just make sure you have a LinkedIn profile to balance it all out.

  4. David Jaeger from Global SEM Partners, June 25, 2007 at 3:40 p.m.

    When I was searching for a job, I noticed that as I got more and more into the tech world, that I got more and more "personal" and "off-the-wall" questions.

    At the end of the day - a job is a professional relationship like any other. The more one knows before they go in, the better off everyone is.(Granted - people that are prejudiced will use that to get more details - but I don't care to work with prejudiced people.)

    I think that online profiles will definitely be a big factor in getting a job. But more of a personality match. And hey, if my potential boss can't live with the fact that I party hard on the weekends - or that I vote for Republican candidates - that's really his problem - I'll go work with a different company.

    Of course - if I was out of options - and this was a make it or break it- I would delete my profiles or make them private

  5. Celeste Johnson, June 25, 2007 at 4:34 p.m.

    I was just thinking how people could make up things on their profiles to make them look ten times better, because they know they will be looked at anyways. How interesting would that be? Then it's telling the world whatever they want to hear.

    Just a thought.

  6. Mary Wolfinbarger, June 25, 2007 at 5:38 p.m.

    I haven't heard anyone offer the advice that you shouldn't participate in social networking sites. But show reasonable restraint, or an employer will think that you don't have good judgment. Posting pictures of you passed out after a drinking binge or provocative pictures is probably not the smartest thing to do. Have good sense. If it isn't something you would want a person to know when you're interviewing for a job, don't post it on your site.

  7. Brian Buser, June 26, 2007 at 2:50 p.m.

    There is a toolbar called Minggl which solves this dilemma. Basically, it allows you to filter who sees what content on your profiles. This can be done because Minggl gives you the ability to consolidate friends lists and sort friends by tags. Then you can add content over top of your other profiles. So, you can have a "clean" profile that the public and recruiters can see. And you can have your beer guzzling photos available for only your frat brothers to see. It's in beta version now and you can request an invite at http://minggl.com

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