Those who already have a job should be equally as careful with their online identity. Forty percent of the executives surveyed said a company has the right to fire an employee based on inappropriate comments made on his or her Facebook page.
"Most people know that employers cannot ask questions regarding race, gender, religion, age, pregnancy or sexual preference during job interviews," said James Freundlich, co-CEO of LiveCareer North America. "What people may not realize is the degree to which hiring managers can glean personal information about candidates by poking around their Facebook page."
It's not just executives who think checking out online profiles should be used in the hiring process. More than 33 percent of entry-level workers surveyed said a company should review a candidate's online identity before extending a job offer.
"We expected the respondents' age to affect their views on workplace privacy," Freundlich said. "But we did not expect one in four of the entry-level respondents to agree that a company could deny them a job offer based on their Facebook profile, nor did we think over 30 percent would think it's okay to be fired for something they've posted online."
The study was based on surveys of more than 6,600 LiveCareer.com users.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.
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