This is a guest blog entry from Karin Gerber.

In a day and age where everything we want to say and show can easily be broadcasted to public social networking websites, it’s rather an ego-filling phenomenon to experience. In other words, it feels kind of cool to do a Google search of yourself and find all sorts of information pop up. It kind of gives you this weird sense of importance. On the other hand, it can be also feel a bit nerve-racking and intrusive. So knowing that you can easily find your name on the Internet, it’s better to be safe than sorry regarding what you post about yourself for the world to see. (Also see previous Windows Observer article,  “What Not To Tell On Social Media Sites“)

All kinds of people and organizations use social media to either communicate with or listen-in on a conversation. People are curious creatures, and with that being said, don’t be surprised if a current or future employer does an Internet search on you to see what pops up. What you post online can affect more than just your family, friends, or co-workers. It just may cost you a job.

I know of someone first-hand who was looking to hire an employee. He received a resume and used social media to help him decide whether this prospective employee should be considered for an interview. He ran an Internet search on the person’s name and sure enough, this person had a public Twitter account. Good for this prospect’s friends and family to read and be amused by, not so good for the employer. Needless to say, after reading this person’s various public tweets, the resume was dismissed and pushed aside.

Another story of social media affecting one financially is what happened to Lindsey Stone during a business trip.

“While visiting Arlington National Cemetery last month, Lindsey Stone thought it would be amusing to snap a photo of herself ‘disrespecting’ the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by flipping it off and pretending to make noise.” (Gawker)

She thought what she did was funny, so she posted the picture to her Facebook wall. Within a short period of time, the photo spread around Facebook and people were outraged. This eventually got back to her employer. Instead of just being a joke, this eventually cost Lindsey her job.

Sure, you can say “unfair” all you want, but the bottom line is this… employers read what’s out there. And if they’re not reading it themselves, someone is reading it for them. Burying your head in the sand won’t make it go away. Employers use social media to get a feel whether you’re a good candidate to work with or not. They see how you communicate, what your personality is like, how you get along with others, etc., all by what you post online.

Welcome to the new social network.