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Richson: Make all socializing private

BY BRIANNE RICHSON | APRIL 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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Having to worry about your mom, or even grandma, creeping on your Facebook or Twitter accounts is enough, but in the social-media age, this isn’t the only anxiety held by college students nearing graduation; many potential employers screen job applicants’ social-media accounts as well.

Thankfully, 28 states have currently pending bills for 2013 that would prevent employers from being able to demand the usernames and passwords of job applicants for such accounts. Iowa is included in this count.

The current bill proposed in Iowa would prevent employers from opting not to hire an applicant solely on the basis of that person’s refusal to provide information pertaining to social-media accounts. The bill would also give rights to those who have already been hired.

However, the outline of the bill as it currently stands does not prevent an employer from accessing information that is in the public domain.

Obviously, once a company hires you, you are a representative of its brand. But as far as this pending social-media legislation is concerned, job applicants should not be discriminated against because of one lingering Halloween night photo.

In the meantime, students and career advisers alike at the University of Iowa have taken a proactive approach. A common trend has been for students to beef up their privacy settings on such accounts; career advisers also reinforce the importance of this measure by encouraging students to Google themselves.

Angi McKie, the director of marketing and operations at the Pomerantz Career Center, noted students should obviously not completely shy away from social networks for fear of scrutiny in the job-application process.

“Establish a good electronic presence on positive networks, such as LinkedIn,” McKie recommended.

Despite the bad rap that social networks often get for teens and 20-somethings, let’s face it: Navigating the web is a favorable skill in the job market.

We are not pro athletes who could be fined thousands of dollars for a temper tantrum thrown via a tweet or Facebook status, but we should all do ourselves a favor and keep what we share in check.


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