Background Checks Now Include Twitter, Facebook and more

More and more employers are checking the social media profiles and posts of potential hires.

Any post or group that could be taken out of context, or construed to make you out as “somebody who likes a racist joke, drinks too much booze or maybe is a bit too fond of guns” can be grounds for an employer to pull your application, according to this recent ABCNews article states. And it’s all legal.

“The Federal Trade Commission has just given the okay for Social Intelligence Corp. to sell these reports to employers and the file will last for seven long years,” the article states.

Even if your profiles are squeaky clean and you actively manage your public information, consider your friends. ” It’s still possible that among your Facebook friends, unbeknownst to you, there’s someone with a criminal record,” the article continues. “An employer could turn you down for having iffy friends and not run afoul of any employment discrimination law.”

Potential employers aren’t getting this information by friending or following you. Often they are outsourcing their research to companies like Social Intelligence Corp. or checking in with friends of your friends to see what you may have hidden. Remember, there is a huge difference between a photo album on your shelf at home and one online, even “protected.” Some employers are going so far as to require potential employees share their usernames and passwords. Whether or not you choose to share this information depends on the position, your personal opinions and how much you want to work for that employer. Before you log in, in front of your future HR Manager or boss, consider this, do you really want to work for someone who would ask you to do that?

While slightly outdated, this CareerBuilder article from earlier this year includes information on how many employers search social media profiles as part of a background check.

The only way to really protect yourself is to be mindful of what you post in the first place. Be sure to check your history for inaccuracies, strange settings, old comments. Ask yourself, out of context does anything seem strange? Make it a habit to check this once a month, when you Google yourself.

Data Entry is Important

Data Entry is not a lot of fun and takes a level of focus that can produce eye strain, but you wouldn’t have the tangible results without it. Having easily accessible data can help you plan for tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.

A good database should be searchable and up to date, which usually means someone will have to input the data on a regular basis.

Some people groan when they find out data entry is part of their job description not mentioned in the interview or pre-hire paper work. I say don’t groan!

Truthfully, I don’t mind data entry. It’s easy to create a game and a goal since it is usually a long list. I have a number in my head I want to get to before the end of the hour or day. If I go over then I give myself bonus points.

It is also easy and tempting to rush through entering the information. I try really hard not to do this, no matter what. I know that having accurate data is more important than just having data.

How do you feel about data entry? Do you see it as an intern’s job?

Why Recognizing Your Employees is Important

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A little recognition goes a long way, especially in an office setting. By recognizing your employees and co-workers internally, morale can improve and attitudes shift to be more positive. (External recognition is a topic for another time.)

I’m not suggesting that you suggest to your boss that you have a party with hats every time someone turns in a project early, or puts in a little extra effort. I am suggesting that a simple thank you for your hard work would go pretty far.

In my experience, the big bosses in most companies are often to focused on the bottom line or the overall picture that they tend to forget that people who are a part of that bottom line.

An article linked here reiterates the human resource side of recognizing employees.

“People who feel appreciated are more positive about themselves and their ability to contribute,” the article states. “People with positive self-esteem are potentially your best employees. These beliefs about employee recognition are common among employers even if not commonly carried out.”

Additionally, employee recognition should be an ongoing occurrence and not just an award handed out at the yearly company party.

Admittedly, it takes time and a good system to recognize employees. But really, how long does a prize drawing or an extra day off take? Are those eight hours really worth disgruntled employees? I believe, the benefits far outweigh the time, effort and initial cost. You can’t fake a positive atmosphere.

Lunch with the Boss

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Is there such a thing as a casual lunch with your boss? I am not talking about a formal business lunch with clients or even a group lunch with other staff members. In this case, I am talking about the one on one lunch on a given, regular Wednesday.

Before my current position, I would have said no. It is not only not possible, but ill-advised.

Now, I work in a two person department. My supervisor and I regularly (at least every couple of months) go to lunch together. Sometimes we talk about work, but mostly we talk about other things. It is an opportunity to connect without the prying eyes and eavesdropping ears of our co-workers. It’s relaxed.

Knowing this was an anomaly from my previous experiences, I asked around about how other people view going to lunch with the boss.

On friend had two very different stories to tell.

“I was working for a women’s lifestyle magazine in St. Louis. It was very about looks, and appearances, etc. I was broke, a graphic design graduate, and definitely not looking “the part” at a women’s lifestyle magazine where everyone looked like this. One day my boss (the guy) came and asked if we could go to lunch (out of the ordinary). He took me to a super healthy restaurant and proceeded to pick out my meal and stare at me as if to say “are you going to eat ALL of that?” It was the most torturous experience and I felt horrible about myself for the remaining four months I worked there. I was broke and hungry all the time.”

Yikes! I have no idea how I would handle that situation. Luckily, the other lunch with the boss situation was much better.

“I was hired for my current job over lunch with my boss. He took me out to offer me the job and it was the best lunch I’d ever had (it was just McCallister’s). We talked about my ideas for the position and what we thought we could do to expand. It was really great having someone actually interested in what I thought I could do, and what my experiences were. It was a great preview of my position and what was to come.”

I think the takeaway from the above situations is that a lunch with your boss can give you insight unavailable in the every day office setting.

My Single Piece of Advice to 2010 Graduates (PR or not)

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I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve made this mistake more than once. A few times, it has worked out well for me. Others have been total disasters.

Don’t accept the first job offer that comes your way, just because it is the first.

Think about that for a minute. Job hunting is scary. It is intimidating and isn’t easy. But trying to fit yourself into a company that doesn’t work for you or a boss with a personality that doesn’t mesh with yours is worse. Unless the position is a perfect fit and will offer you everything you want in a company, culture and in personal relationships with co-workers, it is ok to turn it down.

Yes, your parents might be disappointed and your friends might not understand, but they are not the ones who will have to work there for nine hours (or more!) a day, five (or more!) days per week.

It is perfectly fine to turn down a job you wouldn’t find the work interesting. Of if after the interview you have a gut feeling that it wouldn’t be a good fit. Don’t ignore that. Don’t just say, well it might not be so bad. You have instincts for a reason.

I was on one interview where my possible future boss, stepped on every sentence I had. She was a bit abrasive even in the interview setting. If I had listened to my gut, I would have realized that if she acts this way now, she’ll be even worse if I actually worked for her. And she was.

If I hadn’t just accepted that job off the bat and had waited just a week more, I could have accepted a job in a better environment, with a more collegial staff. I didn’t accept because I had just started a new job. I still kick myself for that.

There are many resources available to you to help decide if an offer is right for you. Just start with Google or your Help a PR Pro Out comrades. In the end, it is your choice. If it doesn’t feel like a choice, consider that a sign that it might be worth waiting for the next opportunity.