There's no doubt there's been plenty written on being careful when it comes to what you publish about yourself online. But when it comes to your career - you can't careful enough. Certain things that seem fun or kitchy now, might come back to bite you sooner or later. These "perma-prints" could follow you for years, maybe even the rest of your career.
Case in point, a few years ago, we had an intern working for the company from a very prestigious school's masters program. Because of their field of study and past educational background (going straight from undergrad to the master program) she was incredibly buttoned up, smart, mature and honestly came across as a bit bookish, to me.
Fast forward a year, and who do I get a FaceBook friend invite from? Yes, that same bookish intern, however, in name only. Her "persona" on her profile was an all out wild-child. Her personal website was some sort of weird - sex-kitten-club-kid-hybrid and the content was definitely no better. The tone and frequency of her status updates were a bit irritating, reminiscent of my friend's 16 year old son, not the comments from a soon to be MBA.
In theory, this is completely normal, however, the human-nature part of me was somewhat taken aback. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not easily taken aback so you can see how puzzling this would be. Was I turned off because I had known her office alter-ego before meeting this online social vixen? Or was it more that this person could have been an ambassador of my company, and the girl we "knew" has a bit of a dark side? Or perhaps it got my wheels turning - who else out there is completely different than what they seem? Being a "what you see is what you get" kind of girl myself, I do accept and understand that some people put on their professional pants while in the office, yet behind closed doors, they might don vinyl. This to me, is fine. What you want to do after hours is totally up to you (just please dont come and tell me the sordid details. TMI.)
With the web and social media, that line of professional and personal is blurring. Many times I find it more helpful to read a candidate's blog, view their public profiles, etc...than just reading a one dimensional resume. But what if we don't like what we find? Not saying they are an axe murderer or anything, but say the above scenario was reversed. What if I "met" the online intern before I met the "offline" intern? Suffice it to say, my impression of her would have been quite different - but does that count as discrimination?
The technologies are evolving and moving so quickly that the lines that once separated us are now fading and becoming thinner and thinner. You can tweet with Ashton Kutcher or Oprah if you want for crying out loud! Because our worlds are colliding at a faster rate than ever, will our hiring ethics and standards morph as well?