Will Your Online Profile Haunt Your Job Search?

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Careful with what you post online. You might think your profile on Facebook or MySpace is just for fun, but some employers are looking up the online personas of their job candidates - or doing simple name searches on Google - to get a more complete picture.

"Many companies that recruit on college campuses have been using search engines like Google and Yahoo to conduct background checks on seniors looking for their first job," reports the New York Times. "But now, college counselors and other experts say, some recruiters are looking up applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational drug use and sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is relative privacy."

What are they looking for? "Red flags," Trudy G. Steinfeld, executive director of New York University's center for career development, told the newspaper. ''Is there something about (the candidate's) lifestyle that we might find questionable or that we might find goes against the core values of our corporation?''

Certainly not all employers are poking around in such quarters. However, career counselors and some of the networking sites themselves suggest that students examine their profiles with fresh eyes, and conduct Google searches on themselves to find - and address - any red flags before potential employers so.

''I think students have the view that Facebook is their space and that the adult world doesn't know about it,'' Mark W. Smith, assistant vice chancellor and director of the career center at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Times. ''But the adult world is starting to come in.''

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