On Oct. 29, author and lawyer C.L. Lindsay gave a presentation on campus that underscored the pitfalls of irresponsible online behavior, particularly Facebook posts and photos. Forty percent of employers, Lindsay said, have turned down applicants whose names were attached to unsavory content on Facebook, MySpace and elsewhere on the Web.
We find those odds unsettling and, for the benefit of yet-unemployed Marquette students who may be unclear on where to draw the line, we think it's a good idea to go over some of Lindsay's pointers.
To begin with, Lindsay displayed real pictures taken from real Facebook profiles that students might not want to share with Mr. or Ms. Potential Boss. One showed a keg in a dormitory bathroom. Aside from the legal implications and disregard for university policy exhibited, such a photo raises serious questions of decorum and taste. "You made your guests drink out of the bathroom?" Mr. Potential Boss might ask with a concerned stare. "Are you quite certain that's sanitary?"
Other photos featured students suggestively licking bottles of alcohol. Frankly, students shouldn't want future employers to see them suggestively licking anything. It's just not a good look for most people.
Photos aren't the only places one can go wrong, however – students also want to steer clear of off-color interests. "Employers are not likely to hire a guy who lists 'boobies' as one of his interests," Lindsay said. A quick Facebook search says that's bad news for at least two Marquette alumni out there, and probably doesn't bode well for four other students who opted to direct their attention simply at "boobs." Don't get us started on the ones who express interest in "poop" or a certain anatomical feature of a young man named Charlie.
There are a few other ill-advised interests we stumbled across. Seven Marquette students currently list "drugs," and unless they're angling for a job with Big Pharma, they may want to reconsider. A few others are more specific still – if crack is whack, then "selling crack cocaine" as a Facebook activity is just plain stupid.
Finally, we urge all Facebook-inclined students to keep their clothes on. The ladies in the scandalous Halloween costumes, the shirtless gentlemen – we're talking to you. If the risks of attracting online predators or disturbing recruiters aren't reason enough to take such photos down, do it for the rest of us.
Employers ask questions about the way you behave online. Make sure you're mindful of your answers.