should I tell a job candidate that near-nude shots on her MySpace page are hurting her prospects?

A reader writes:

I’m a hiring manager in the creative industry. As part of the review process, I’ll do a quick Google search of each applicant. This usually brings up LinkedIn and/or a portfolio website. Sometimes, I’ll stumble across a cooking blog or travel photos on Flickr. I believe it’s important to maintain a work-life balance, so it’s nice to get a glimpse of what applicants are interested in outside the office. The Google search has always been a positive experience, until now…

When I Googled one of the frontrunners for a position, I didn’t find a LinkedIn profile. Instead I found a MySpace page that was covered in party photos where the applicant looked like she had way too many. The page also had what appeared to be professional boudoir shots. Pretty darn close to completely naked, and I have seen quite enough of this applicant’s butt crack. It also doesn’t help that the headline of the MySpace page was “~*ShAkE iT oFf*~”. (Seriously? This is coming from an applicant who is likely in her early 30s.)

I’ve interviewed this applicant in person, and I am absolutely sure that was her in all those photos. You’d think that someone applying for a marketing/design position would realize how important it is to have maintain a positive online presence. I realize I stumbled upon her *personal* page, but I didn’t exactly have to do much snooping to get there. Just a quick Google search of her name and email. No privacy settings. Everything on display.

This applicant was in the top 5, and I was originally planning on asking her to come in for a second interview with the team. She was professional and polished when I met with her. Fairly solid qualifications and experience. However, her page demonstrates a serious lack of judgement. Our clients might stumble across her page, and who knows how she might be behave at events where alcohol is present.

Would you move forward with the second interview? Should I mention that we came across her MySpace page and that it could be hurting her career? How would you handle this situation?

People still have MySpace pages?

In any case, yeah, drunken photos and boudoir shots (!) — not exactly the online persona that you want to showcase when you’re in a job search.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to remove her from the running based on this. It shows bad judgment, and you’re right that someone applying for a marketing position should be especially aware of how her online presence will influence how she’s perceived. And really, at this point there’s been so much attention paid to how things on the Internet can come back to haunt you that there’s no excuse for any reasonably savvy person to leave this kind of public trail, particularly during a job search.

And while I know that people like to argue that someone’s personal life should have no bearing on their candidacy, the reality is that the Internet is public, and the way you choose to present yourself on it is part of the overall picture you present to an employer. It’s not like an employer sneaking a look in your bedroom window — it’s a public forum that you’re choosing to participate in publicly, and what you do there reflects your judgment or lack thereof.

As for whether to mention this to her or not, you’re certainly not obligated to but you’d be doing her a big favor if you did. I’d say something like, “While we were impressed with you in your interview, we routinely look at applicants’ online presence, and what we found on some of your public social networking profiles raised red flags about judgment and professionalism.  I’m mentioning this because it’s a factor that might be holding you back in your job search, so it could be worth taking a look at.”  Followed by, “I enjoyed meeting you and wish you all the best in your search,” etc.

What do others think? Anyone want to argue the employer should pretend she never saw it?

{ 223 comments… read them below }

  1. Dawn*

    Ooof that’s one heck of a faux pas.

    I agree- tell the applicant what you found and make it clear that she was a frontrunner up until that point. Some people don’t understand that the first rule of the internet is if your boss would find it questionable, DON’T ATTACH IT TO YOUR REAL NAME.

    Some might argue that the interviewer could continue with this woman in the running for the job, just requesting that she set her MySpace to private if she got the job, but I am a huge advocate for your company not meddling in what you do in your free time.

    1. A Nonnie Mouse*

      I have a Facebook page that I use to satisfy people who want to view my online presence. I post once a week or so, and keep it pretty neutral. The more private me is on Livejournal and most of what I post is kept friends only, and there’s no real life info to connect me to it.

      There’s nothing bad on it, other than I swear a lot at times and belong to a community where people vent about bad service industry experiences. But I wouldn’t want people see me on “customers_suck” or my posts on “ontd_political” and make judgements that could cost me a job.

      People–especially younger people–sometimes thing they’re invulnerable to stuff like this. they aren’t.

      1. Julie*

        “People–especially younger people–sometimes thing they’re invulnerable to stuff like this. they aren’t.”

        While that’s true, I think that the paradigm is shifting. By the time a lot of today’s students are hiring managers themselves, the general attitude in the workplace will be much looser towards online posted material. I could be wrong, of course, but I suspect that’s where the trend is going.

        When the hiring manager is someone who grew up on Facebook/Myspace/Twitter/Reddit/etc., I think they’re going to be much more lenient towards online footprints, particularly those that are clearly many years old.

        1. The Right Side*

          Interesting point… and you are probably right. Just think – it wasn’t that long ago that Elvis Presley’s shaking hips were too much…

        2. jmkenrick*

          I agree with you, certainly, however I still feel like it’s a situation where people are expected to know how to maintain a professional web presence.

          I sort of look at it like a wardrobe. Yes, I own a little tiny dress for dates, yes I own a well-loved flannel shirt. I wouldn’t hide from my boss if she saw me on the street in those outfits, but I also know not to wear them to meetings.

          I think we’re moving into an era where your employees know you might have a curse word or drunken photo on your Facebook page – but they expect you to also know how to set that page to private. You might be a member of a controversal poitical forum – but you know to make your username something other than “firstname_lastname.”

          It’s reasonable for them to expect that if you’re open about those things on the internet, you might be equally open about them in the office.

          That’s not say you have to lie or be secretive about these things, just to recognize that it’s expected to compartmentalize your life to a certain extent.

    2. Vicki*

      But if you insist on rejecting her from the process when before she was a front-runner… you are already meddling in what she does in her free time.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is about her professional judgment in what she makes publicly available, not about what she does behind closed doors or somewhere where she’d have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    1. Alexis*

      Yikes! Inspired by your comment, I just googled my name and the first and only web page that appeared is a mug shot from Bay County Florida! I have no criminal record…I have never even recieved a speeding ticket. I have two last names, my maiden name and my husband’s last name, so my same is somewhat unique. The woman in the mug shot does not look anything like me, but is within one year of my age. Maybe this should be a separate question for AAM, but could I wonder if this could hurt my chances at landing interviews in the future. (I’m not currently looking for another job, but plan to in the near future.) Do most hiring managers google a candidate’s name before the interview or after? Because I wouldn’t call me for an interview if I saw that! What could I possibly do to prevent this from hurting my career prospects down the road?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I Googled my maiden name and I found my name on Mugshots also! The woman on there was charged with identity theft. She’s about four years younger than me. How scary is that??

      2. Anonymous*

        I have a fairly common name and there’s one person with the same name as me who has a huge online presence – she’s a model – the kind that doesn’t wear a lot of clothes. So I certainly hope hiring managers don’t always assume that could be me.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So the standard advice on what to do if there are search results for your name that you don’t like is to create lots of OTHER search results that you WILL like — start a blog, create profiles on a bunch of sites, buy and put a site there, whatever it takes to generate other results for your name that will push the problematic one out of the first few pages of search results. This is a lot of work, obviously, and there are even companies that you can hire to do it for you (although I don’t know how good they are). But that’s what I’ve always seen advised on the topic.

        1. jmkenrick*

          Echoing Annoymous up there – I think LinkedIn is a pretty fast path to this. Additionally, I think getting a Google+ page can’t hurt.

        2. Jen*

          I’m so glad this topic has come up… I wouldn’t include a picture with my resume, but I do have a page and put that on my resume in case people are curious. It leaves ME in control of my online presence (not that there is much!), and also my name is VERY common, and all sorts of people come up. If we’re all getting googled, I want them to find the right me. Also, if something on my site really turns them off (and it is *quite* generic), I figure it might be for the best.

          As far as the photo on resume thing, I once got hired because I had “good boobs” – I overheard the manager telling his friend over the phone! They just invited females to interview (which was pathetic) and picked…. EW. And what a waste of others’ time!

          I think in previous generation it was more common to hire a friend of a friend, family member, colleague, alumni, etc – someone you had *some* connection with. I have an interview with a job I applied for on a generic job listing website. You’re employing a person, hopefully one you want to be around, that “fits” – it seems only natural that a manager would some vague idea of who you are. Am I wrong?

    2. Anonymous*

      I googled myself a week ago and decided google is officially scary as far as addresses, phone numbers, and associated people. Any advice on how to reduce one’s internet presence? Luckily, none of my namesakes seems to have a lurid online presence, but still!

    3. Anonymous*

      I googled my name a week or so ago and found that my professor had acknowledged me in a written report on a huge project he had been working on; a few of us students had been volunteers but I never knew about the acknowledgement besides his verbal thank yous.

    4. Broke Philosopher*

      I have a unique name so anything that can be identified as mine is google-able. My big problem is that someone at my alma mater set up this stupid website where people can basically anonymously insult one another. I think it’s been corrected, but it used to pop up on google, so that if someone said “brokephilosopher is a stupid whore,” that would come up–and I had no way of deleting that post. To my knowledge, no one ever wrote that, but I lived in fear of it as I did my job search.

        1. Broke Philosopher*

          oh, I never even thought of that–as I said, I think the “bug” has been fixed now (and the site was never affiliated with the university; it was run by some sort of evil student). and my alma mater was terrible at the “getting its alumni hired” thing. I always felt like the advice I was getting from my CRC was bullshit, so I felt kind of vindicated when I came onto your site and saw that you agreed with me! LOVE the blog!

    1. Lexy*

      Sorry, I realized you didn’t write it, I just meant it was from one of your employers, not you :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ah, good — I misunderstood! (I freelance for a few different places, and they all sometimes run things by other authors that I don’t agree with, so don’t take it as having my stamp of approval!)

  2. moe*

    Would not tell her. Laws on what you can and can’t use in hiring decisions vary widely, and the use of social media in this context is evolving. I’d see it as a whack-a-doodle type claim on her part which wouldn’t go anywhere in any sane jurisdiction, but just having to deal with it would be a headache for OP/company. Better to let her go away quietly than give her the opportunity to cry foul.

    Besides, it seems like a nice thing to do for the applicant, but what about the company that hires her, unaware of her total lack of judgment?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s legal to look at candidates’ online presence. If you do it and then discriminate against someone because of what you find out about their race or religion (or other legally protected class), that’s obviously illegal — but not applicable in this case.

      Agree with you though that there’s an argument to be made that there’s no reason to protect other employers from someone with bad judgment. That’s always the dilemma when deciding whether to give someone feedback on something judgment-related.

      1. moe*

        Yes, but protecting oneself from lawsuit isn’t just about toeing the line on what’s legal–it’s also about avoiding things that might open oneself up to claims, legitimate or not. Telling someone they were rejected from a job because of “soft” factors you found online is an obvious and easy thing to avoid.

        By the time you get to a judge, you’ve already sunk lots of time, money, and possibly reputation.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sure, but (a) it’s very, very common and (b) you can’t let fear of a frivolous lawsuit stifle the way you manage — that’s what leads to employers not firing people who should be fired. You need to do what’s sensible and legal and ethical and not be governed by fear of someone suing you anyway.

          1. Jamie*

            “you can’t let fear of a frivolous lawsuit stifle the way you manage”

            This should be on a T-Shirt. I would buy it.

              1. Anonymous*

                “I agree. There need to be AAM tshirts!”

                Now if only I worked at a place that allowed me to wear t-shirts.

          2. moe*

            Yes, but this has nothing to do with firing people, and I certainly wouldn’t encourage a manager to avoid doing the things they need to do out of fear of lawsuit. Totally different situations!

            This is simply an easy and obvious landmine to avoid. If it’s not shirking any ethical duty, and it’s not damaging the company in any way (rather the opposite, arguably), why take the risk?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I Google candidates because it gives me additional information that helps me make a decision: things about judgment, writing skills, potential problems (racist rantings, references to being drunk at work, or really frequent complaints about bosses/coworkers), etc. I consider it part of due diligence before hiring someone.

              1. Alison*

                Does it raise any flags if there is no online presence at all? I am vigilant about my privacy online, but I wonder if this deprives hiring managers of a more well-rounded view of me?

              2. moe*

                But we’re not talking about doing a search. We’re talking about *telling* someone that you did so and then rejected them on that basis.

                I don’t disagree at all with gathering the info, but you asked for reasons why one might not want to tell the candidate.

              3. OP*

                AAM, at what stage in the hiring process do you typically do the Google search?

                I usually wait until after the first in-person interview to Google candidates. That way, all candidates (with and without an online presence) have the opportunity to make their first impression during the interview.

              4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I do it once I have serious interest in a candidate — which could be after a phone interview or an in-person interview. Or, if I get an application from someone who blows me away from the start, I might Google at that point.

            2. Adam V*

              I don’t see how *telling her the reason* can put you in legal trouble. Either the reason is illegal or it’s not (in this case, it’s not), but the act of telling her the reason you didn’t hire her should not open you up to any additional legal issues.

              (IANAL, etc. etc.)

              1. Anonymous*

                If there is no online presence, that does raise eyebrows. At least set up a proper LinkedIn profile so people can see you exist in the online world.

          3. Joey*

            I think Moe has a good point. If you’ve ever been faced with a seemingly ridiculous lawsuit you would likely have a different point of view. Defending reasonable, ethical actions isn’t always as easy as it sounds. All it takes is someone with a chip on their shoulder and a lawyer who works on contingency. You’d be surprised at how painstaking, time consuming, expensive and frustrating it is to defend seemingly frivolous lawsuits. Sometimes you just want to reach out to the judge, EEOC, or whomever and say ” are you kidding me?”. I’m not saying fear of frivolous lawsuits should dictate your actions, but you should be cognizant of them. And after facing a few frivolous lawsuits believe me you will think long and hard about giving out this type of unsolicited feedback. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying if you’re going to do it you’d better understand that it can be misinterpreted, twisted and turned into something it’s not. And if you’re going to memorialize it in an email or something you’d better be comfortable with defending every word of it in a court of law. And you’d better be comfortable that every step of your hiring process will be analyzed every which way to see if there is some sliver of information that supports the complaint/suit. This is the main reason I dont give unsolicited feedback. I only give out feedback when I get a sense that the person is truly trying to better themselves. Otherwise it’s not worth the headaches.

        2. Mike C.*

          Do you understand how difficult it would be to find a lawyer willing to bring such a suit, and the costs to the candidate to bring the suit forward?

          All the money you talk about would be on the shoulders of the plaintiff, not the defendant.

          1. moe*

            Yes, I’m quite familiar with the costs of litigation. It’s simply not true that the costs only sit with the plaintiff. Frivolous suits are settled every day because of this!

            It may be difficult to find an attorney to take this on, but absolutely not impossible–I’m just saying it’s a risk that’s easily avoided.

    2. Nichole*

      I can definitely see this from the “no good deed goes unpunished” angle. It would be nice of the OP to let the applicant know that she’s putting a pretty negative image out there publicly, but if the applicant is indeed a whack-a-doodle type (thanks for that, by the way), it could become a headache. Definitely a judgement call on the OP’s part whether this candidate can handle the truth-she may even have a good explanation that she didn’t realize wasn’t apparent. As far as the next company, though, if she takes the images down or changes her settings, then maybe her judgement is redeemable. If not, it’s their choice if they want to deal with it.

      1. ruby*

        Agreed – in a perfect world, the OP could share this info as a good deed. Since I’m at work today and not laying on a tropical beach with Timothy Olyphant, I’m pretty sure this is not a perfect world though :) Look at it this way – if the theory is what you found online raises questions about her judgement, doesn’t that lack of judgement also make it more likely that her response to this “helpful” feedback might be out of line? That she might get pissy about it and become a PITA? I wouldn’t be so concerned about lawsuits as I would about this person becoming a nuisance with her reaction, and just an unnecessary headache.

  3. Anonymous*

    I keep my online presence clean, and not only do I keep it closed to the public, but I have also manipulated my controls to keep some friends in the dark.

    And yes, somehow Myspace is still surviving. I gave up mine long ago, and I have noticed some friends still have theirs but are technically abandoned. Why not just cancel the account?

    Let her know and let this be her lesson in the repercussions. You can’t unring a bell.

    1. Josh S.*

      Why not just cancel the account?

      3 reasons:
      -It’s forgotten. Most people went from “Myspace” to “Myspace & Facebook” to “Facebook” without noticing that they forgot their Myspace page.
      -It takes effort. It’s easier to just leave it there than to take the action to actually cancel the account.
      -It’s hard. The cancel account link is difficult to find, there are multiple steps (including email confirmation, etc), and it’s not immediate.

      Anyway, MySpace has found a niche serving as a social media hub for music/bands & movies & other media stuff. And that’s why it lingers on, gasping for breath.

      1. Junia*

        Even if you can’t cancel the account, you can delete all the pictures. You can also change the name. You can add a bunch of *** and ~~ to it as well.

        Yes, I used to use Myspace. But to my defense, I was in high school. :(

      2. Anonymous*

        Forgetfulness – I’ll forgive on that one, but in my opinion, it is careless to abandon/forget a social media profile. Who knows how has broken into it and changed things/stole things, etc and how long ago it happened?

        Saying it takes effort or that it is hard – Seriously? Yes, Myspace does want email confirmation for deleting an account, but it takes no more than 10 minutes. How many of us are online for 10 minutes? If you were to delete your Myspace page, for example, and while waiting for the email to arrive for confirmation, you probably could just read my original comment, type your answer, hit submit, and then return to your email to find it has arrived. And voila! Myspace cancelled. And usually, the “delete” button is in accuont settings, the same place to change the password.

  4. Anonymous*

    As a customer, I routinely do searches on sales peoples names, especially for cold calls. So, yes, the candidate’s Internet presence might directly harm sales. (making the rather big assumption that “marketing” = sales)

    1. Piper*

      Eh, not to split hairs, but since the OP said the job was for marketing/design, I’m guessing this job is not sales related at all. Probably more on the communications/advertising area.

  5. Ira*

    DOJ ruled a few months ago that companies can use a third party service that does background assessment via social media. The service from the description is restricted to offensive/discriminatory content but it essentially validates that social media is a valid reference check.

    Challenge is where do you draw the line and how do you mitigate potential risk. If the situation you described were to be reflective of a candidate who was also part of a minority or protected class, it could backfire against you in a discrimination claim.

    Bottom line:
    tread lightly, document criteria in advance, inform applicants/candidates early in the process and be prepared for worst case scenario.

  6. Evan the College Student*

    Some of the comments raise an interesting question in my mind: Are these photos on Myspace recent? Is the candidate currently doing these stupid things, or was she just doing them ten years ago in college? If the latter, I’m pretty sure she’d be surprised and mortified that it was still publicly visible.

    1. Lexy*

      I mean that could be… goodness knows that if you really dig hard there are probably some mildly embarassing (not this bad, but still) things you could find about me on the internet. But taking the letter writer at their word that they didn’t dig that hard and that the MySpace stuff is on the first or second page of results, the candidate should be aware of it. How long does it take to google yourself? Answer: Not long.

    2. Jamie*

      They could be old, which reinforces how important it is to google your name if you’re interviewing.

      Googling my name will get you page after page of my writting from back when I was a television recapper. Nothing bad, but not related to my field and if you read it I can be somewhat snarky at times (hard to believe, now that I’m currently so sweet and devoid of opinion). Again, nothing I’m ashamed of, but I know it’s out there and I addressed it when I was interviewing. I said I enjoyed writing and while temping it was nice to have regular deadlines and then I mention how it helped me develop a thicker skin so I can deal with criticism more gracefully and being edited for years by professional editors improved both my writing and proofing skills.

      Although you’d never know it by the way I post here – I can actually use proper punctuation and full non-run-on sentences. :)

      The point is you HAVE to know what’s out there when you’re googled. If it’s damaging, get it down and if not possible at least try to craft some damage control.

      1. Jamie*

        And yes, I see that I typoed writing in a post referencing proofreading.

        What was it someone posted recently in another thread about Muphry’s Law?

        1. Julie*

          I think it was something about the inevitability of having a typo in your comment or post if you’re talking about proper writing. Exponentially more so if you’re trying to correct someone else’s bad writing. *grin*

          1. Jamie*

            Although for the record, I very rarely police anyone else’s writing (except for work) because I am the reigning Miss Typo USA, and President of the Casual and Incorrect Punctuation Society.

            On another thread I saw a Jamie had pointed out one of Alison’s typos and I thought I had been posting in my sleep…but then I remembered I didn’t trademark the name Jamie and there is more than one out there.

            But yeah, I’m afraid of typo karma because it bites me everytime.

      2. Nikki*

        I have a somewhat unusual first name (obviously not Nikki) and a common last name. Google me, there are two professors that teach at different schools. It’s obviously not me, I can be found, but its just a name on old websites at places I use to work, oh well…

    3. Erica B*

      I was wondering this myself. It’s possible it is old, forgotten, and can’t remember her password, or doesn’t use that email to get in to cancel it if she wanted… I know that happens to people all the time.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m usually very private, so I once panicked because I Googled myself and discovered I still had a public Myspace account for my writing with a slightly more…how do I put this… subversive tone than I wanted out there as my public image. The thinking at the time was “this is me, if you don’t like it, screw you,” not considering that this may not be me, at least not public me, forever. Trouble was, I had no idea how to access the e-mail account that it was linked to and had forgotten the password. I e-mailed Myspace tech support and it was down that day. I have to say, for a company that notoriously makes things more difficult than they have to be, it was really easy to make my public cranky coed disappear.

  7. Julie*

    People should be aware that if they’re Googling themselves, they should log out of any Google services first. Google has algorithms that prioritize stuff that’s more important to you. So if you’re logged in as yourself, you’ll see certain things that the general public might not, and vice-versa. I just tried this myself, Googling my own name when I was logged in and logged out, and about half the front-page hits were different.

    A really good explanation/example of the way algorithms work to provide everyone different search results is in this TED talk:

      1. kristinyc*

        Wow, thanks. I just tested that. When I was logged in as myself, the first picture was me in my wedding dress….that I bought 2 weeks ago and have emailed to a few people (through gmail), but not posted anywhere else online. WTF.

        It was less scary when I logged out – mostly pictures from newspaper articles/my friends’ facebook pages.

  8. Anonymous*

    Myspace? it’s possible this is from the candidates college days, where photos of these sorts are sort of accepted. But, I suppose she should have deleted her account.

  9. Interviewer*

    OP, it is possible that some of the team members will do their own googling prior to the interview. You may be shocked, possibly forgiving after a few minutes of consideration, but what do you think they will say about the MySpace pics? Better yet, what will they say if you decide to hire her anyway?

    Honestly, I would give her the feedback, but in the context of “we really enjoyed meeting you, and we have several qualified candidates in the mix, but you did not make it to the next round. I do not do this very often with candidates, but I do want you to succeed in your job search. Would you like some feedback?” If she’s open to it, I would give her the good & the bad. You could talk about the interview, what she did well, pieces about her experience that you liked – and then let her know that as part of the job, you do google candidates, because you are seeking evidence of the ability to market an employer in a social media world. Also, you know potential clients, vendors, and other employees will do the same.

    I would not mention MySpace specifically – maybe let her know that you didn’t find a professional presence with a previous employer, LinkedIn profile, etc. – just a lot of very personal stuff that any client or vendor would be able to find. I would definitely add “that any client or vendor would be able to find” because that lets her know this affects a lot more than getting a job. Let her google her name after she gets off the phone with you, and she’ll connect the dots right away.

    You may already know from looking at the site if the MySpace page is still being maintained, or if it’s been abandoned (maybe she’s honestly forgotten that it’s still public) – but either way, you probably aren’t the first interviewer to stumble across it, and if you don’t give her the feedback, you won’t be the last one, either. I truly think you can speak up and give her the opportunity to fix her online presence, esp. if the page is pretty old.

    And if the pics were just posted last weekend, I would be highly suspicious of anyone in marketing who is still actively using MySpace in 2012.

  10. Anonymous*

    As a new person in the workplace, some of this is new to me.

    Obviously, I know that it is smart to keep a “clean” online presence. But as the writer said, this woman is in her 30s. Perhaps it is, like the other commenters said, a Myspace of the past that she is unaware of.

    Also, is the writer SURE sure that it was this person´s myspace? I mean, I have googled my name before and found many social networking sites that were by other people of the same name. One of which was an obsessive Justin Bieber twitter. When there is a possibility that it could be another person, with maybe the same hair color or something, is it worth the risk? Especially if she was so impressive in her interview!

    I mean, I wouldn´t want an interviewer to get rid of me because there is an immature and strange twitter account out there with my same name (there is no photo on the account, so how would the interviewer know it´s not me)!

    1. Anonymous*

      As with the candidate with the same name as a famous person, we are smart enough to figure out if it is you or not. Don’t worry, unless you have need to worry, of course.

      In any case, at my employer, all this will come out in your background check which the FBI is kind enough to provide. ;)

      1. Anonymous*

        No, I am not saying I have the same name as a famous person. I am saying that I have a random name that some girl out there shares with me, who has a crazy, misspelled twitter account that obsesses over Justin Bieber. This is just one example, but imagine if a person´s name was, say, associated with some teenage girl who posted racy photos on her myspace…

        1. Anonymous*

          I still think I’m smart enough to know the difference. Now, if this is your doppelganger with the exact same name who lives in the same town and went to the same University, well yes, you are in trouble. But I don’t think that’s going to come up very often.

          And I’m telling you, yes, I’d check all that before I made any assumptions. Anyone would, or should.

          1. jmkenrick*

            Agreed. And in the original question, the OP notes that there were pictures, and they were pictures of the woman she interviewed, so it sounds like they’re quite sure.

  11. Anonymous*

    Some things to consider – social media is still fairly new.

    If someone in HR were to search for a current employee and found the same type of content, would that employee be terminated? I’m sure in some cases yes, in others no. The question is what would happen at YOUR company?

    People who live very vivid lifestyles can still be excellent, top performing employees. You may have other employees who do the same things in their personal time, but you can’t find it, they keep it private, or don’t post it. I don’t see anything wrong with searching for people on social media sites, but I disagree with pulling an otherwise good candidate out of the race when the content you find isn’t hate related, illegal or harmful in some way. If the applicant interviews well, knows what they’re talking about, has good references – let them live their personal life how they want.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “You may have other employees who do the same things in their personal time, but you can’t find it, they keep it private, or don’t post it.”

      That’s the key difference. It’s about having good judgment in what you post publicly about yourself.

      1. Jamie*

        It’s kind of like how your neighbors don’t know or care if you make your bed – but they care very much about how you keep your lawn.

        Personal habits only become relevant to others when they impact them – same for employers.

  12. Mike C.*

    Why in the heck can you not say, “Hey, we found your MySpace page filled with pictures of you partying and half naked, it could be hurting your chances of employment.” Boom, done. Yeah, having pictures like that out in the open is an issue, but it’s something that can be fixed in a few minutes.

    1. Kimberlee*

      I agree totally with this. Nobody uses MySpace anymore, and I can’t remember how to even access my account, since I don’t know the password and its associated with an email that doesn’t exist anymore. It could be that for this person, deleting the MySpace page was going to be a huge pain in the ass and they just never got around to it, and forgot.

      I would call her in for the second interview and tell her what you found. If it’s truly unacceptable that employees have drunk and/or nakie pics, just say so: “We’ve really enjoyed you as a candidate, but these pictures need to be hidden from public view before we could extend you any kind of offer.”

      If she forgot, or if it doesn’t come up because when she Googled herself it wasn’t in HER top pages (as the commenter noted, which I had no idea about), then you’re penalizing bad judgement that’s not even there. And taking out an awesome candidate for no good reason.

      1. kristinyc*

        That would be absolutely mortifying for a lot of people – to call her in for an interview, make her think it’s going well, and then bring up the MySpace page in person. I think this should be addressed over email, and based on her response (either being embarrassed but grateful they brought it to her attention, or, “That’s not me.”), decide if they still want to bring her in for #2.

  13. kristinyc*

    I work in marketing – I would question the candidate’s judgement based on the fact that she’s still using MySpace (not what she chooses to post on it…)

  14. akaCat*

    Please tell her about it. It’s always possible that someone hacked her account and removed the privacy settings. Someone might have even created the page without her knowledge. (An ex might have possession of the original boudoir shots and the party photos.)

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      Guess what is best way to make sure your near-naked photos don’t end up on the internet: don’t take any.

      1. akaCat*

        Pretending just for a moment that we know the woman who interviewed is being harassed, stalked or otherwise trolled: please, let’s not blame the victim.

        1. A Bug!*

          Thank you for this post. There are lots of ways uncompromising photographs can get onto the Internet, and many of these are without the subject’s consent. People should not be punished for the simple fact of engaging in certain activities.

          It’s a perfectly valid decision to choose not to engage because of the risk involved. That doesn’t mean that someone else who did choose to engage is to blame, or “deserved it”, if someone else acts outside their consent.

          1. Wilton Businessman*

            one does not take “professional boudoir shots” without consent. Sometimes we have to put on our big boy pants and take responsibility for our actions.

            1. fposte*

              They may, however, be disseminated without consent. Ugly breakups and divorces result in former partners’ doing all kinds of things with private materials.

              I agree that it doesn’t really sound like that’s the case here, but I think we’re talking about the general issue as well.

            2. jmkenrick*

              Additionally, a stolen or hacked computer or phone can cause private photos to become public, and with Photoshop, some time, and a headshot of you, I could create a racy photo that you never consented to pose for.

              (The fact that people do this always makes me think of that scene in Amelie where the fruitseller has Pricess Diana’s head taped atop all the woman in a Playboy.)

          2. Anonymous*

            I agree, Bug. Wilton, you imply that the act of taking bourdoir photos is a bad thing or says something negative about a person. Not everyone agrees. (I immediately think of an episode of The Golden Girls where sweet, unassuming Rose decides to have one done as a surprise for her longtime boyfriend and takes a flannel floor length gown as her sexy nightie.) Just because they don’t assign negative value to that behavior doesn’t mean they want it all over the internet, and no one else has the right to put it there without permission. (Just for clarification, I’m not saying Wilton insinuated that the person deserved it, he was just mentioned because he took a clear stance on the issue as a value judgement.)

            1. Wilton Businessman*

              You may have read into what I wrote, but that’s not at all what I said. I am addressing this situation, not trying to solve everybody’s privacy problems. The candidate took racy photos and _probably_ posted them to the internet for all to see. That person is not a poor victim, they did it themselves. If you are inferring that I believe there is something bad about racy photos on the internet, you are sadly mistaken.

      2. Kelly O*

        Thank you. This, a thousand times.

        There is a reason you will not find pictures like that of me. It’s also the reason you won’t hear about me having a skydiving accident, or being attacked by my pet snake.

        Risks I Am Not Willing To Take (and who’d want to see that anyway?)

      3. Anonymous*

        There have been numerous cases of people having intimate photos of them taken without their knowledge. Even if that’s not the case, if a candidate’s greatest crime is trusting an intimate partner I can forgive them.

      4. fposte*

        Eh. I don’t think sending saucy pictures to an SO is a problematic thing to do. Just as an employer/hiring manager shouldn’t let fear of a frivolous lawsuit hamper the way they manage, I don’t think people should let fear of a complete change in those they know hamper them in doing reasonable private things.

        I think it becomes a judgment issue when you’re a married politician sending such pictures or you’re sending them to a married politician, but if it’s just to an SO from whom there was later a deeply acrimonious breakup, then I’m not actually seeing that as a judgment error. Having a taste for a quiet, circumscribed life doesn’t mean that other tastes are bad judgment.

      5. Anonymous*

        Actually, its the responsibility of the poster not to post incriminating photos online.

        Slut shaming on the internet; a tired, time-worn way of keeping women in their place. Let’s grow up, K?

      6. Anonymous*

        Wilton Businessman, I agree. While it is certainly not fine to post someone’s personal pics online without their permission, the person who agreed to have erotic pics taken in the first place showed a horrible lack of judgement. Once pics are taken, you really don’t have much control over them. Especially in a world where they can be forwarded to thousands of people in a moment. This isn’t an issue of “slut shaming” *rolls eyes*, it’s just common sense.

        1. fposte*

          While this is obviously an individual call, I’m still going to advance a line of disagreement for the record. If, say, a wife takes some tender lingerie shots to send to her husband serving overseas and then somebody forwards those, I don’t think she’s the jackass in the situation, or that she has a “horrible lack of judgment.” All those pictures would reveal are that she has underwear and that she’s hot for her husband–big deal.

          There’s an underlying implication that the truly virtuous life is lived without risk of the private becoming public, and I think that’s wrong. I think the important difference in cases like this is between somebody who doesn’t get that they’re openly advertising themselves in a way that clashes with a necessary image for business and somebody whose private stuff was made public without their consent. Kind of like the difference between your waving your underwear/sex-related materials around the airport going “Look, everybody!” and having customs accidentally dump them on the airport floor. I think it’s going too far to believe people simply shouldn’t travel with underwear or condoms because of the risk customs will dump them on the floor, you know?

      7. jmkenrick*

        Playing devil’s advocate – there are scores of “nude” celebrity shots on the internet that are faked – it’s not that difficult to photoshop a head onto someone else’s body in a convincing way if you have the skills and the patience.

        I see no reason to judge her for having the photos in the first place.

        1. Jaime*

          “I see no reason to judge her for having the photos in the first place.”

          Agreed. I mean, I know what they’re getting at with it, but I could care less about it personally.

          1. anonymouse*

            +2. I couldn’t care less, either. Private life is private life, and I don’t think it has to be kept hermetically sealed with the Cask of Amontillado.

    2. Jubilance*

      Absolutely. I have experienced this scenario myself – and luckily it did not affect my job search at the time, but it was devestating to know that someone hates me enough to do this type of thing.

    3. Jaime*


      It’s up to them, but I hope if this is going to knock her out of the candidacy that the Op gives her a chance to at least address it. “We routinely google job candidates and came across some things that we find questionable.” At the very least, it could be approached as a matter of fit. Maybe the candidate doesn’t want to work for company that cares how hard she parties on the weekend, what kinds of pictures she takes and how open she is with her online presence. But, maybe the candidate’s account was “reactivated” by someone else or she’s the victim of some malicious person (not malicious because what she posted was bad, but just that it was done with the intent to affect her negatively).

      I’m no employment lawyer, but the things you’re finding objectionable don’t appear to violate any laws so I if you’re inclined to do this then I don’t see why you can’t approach it bluntly.

  15. Anonymous*

    Telling her about it is the right thing to do. She may have been searching for a job for a long time and not know why she’s not getting the jobs.

      1. Anonymous*

        Some people think we live in a sex-negative society, some think we live in a sex-saturated society. Either way, it’s wise to use some discretion when broadcasting your personal life.

  16. Anonymous*

    I have a question somewhat related to this. I am currently looking for work, and have Googled my name. There is something I am now embarrassed about. On the 2nd page, an article comes up with my name because I was involved in a protest, and was interviewed by a paper about it. So my name and photo comes up in a Google search. Not too proud of it at this point, but there isn’t really anything I can do.

    The other question I have about it, is that I am a Jr, so if you type my full name with Jr at the end, it doesn’t come up at all. But if you just use my first and last name, it does come up. Do hiring managers put in the entire name? Or do they normally do variations?

    1. Anonymous*

      Depending on the type of publication, you may be able to ask the author to remove your name or hide the story.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d probably put in both in a “Jr” situation. Is the protest for some really fringe issue? Do you appear really fringe in it? Or is it something more mainstream? If the latter, it might not be an issue for lots of employers.

      1. Anonymous*

        It’s kind of a fringe issue. It wasn’t something offensive, but in retrospect, pretty frivolous and unnecessary. I came off looking more silly than anything, and I am now just embarrassed by it.

        I guess good thing I am getting married in a few months, and I am hyphenating my last name.

        1. Anonymous*

          I should also mention the protest wasn’t politically based. It was for something else.

  17. Wilton Businessman*

    Please attach the URL of the questionable pictures so we can evaluate ourselves.

  18. Kelly O*

    I’d probably mention it if I were the OP, just because an otherwise strong candidate really does need someone to give her a heads-up that this is why we don’t feel we can move forward.

    I mean, I’d think at that point you could pretty easily tell if it was recent or not – she’ll either turn beet red and not really believe it’s still up, or you will find yourself on the Justification Train. Either way, it could be an opportunity to pay it forward – “Hey, Jane Jobseeker, in a forward facing profession like marketing, you may have people looking up more information about you. This is a valuable object lesson for you that I do hope helps you moving forward in your search.”

  19. Karthik*

    You’d also better be sure that the person whose MySpace page you’re looking at is indeed the one and same as the one you’re looking to hire. Names are more common than you might think.

    1. A Bug!*

      The OP has seen the subject in person and apparently believes the resemblance is strong enough that it is not a case of mistaken identity.

      1. Karthik*

        Maybe. My name is common enough that there are over 500 people that come up when you search on facebook (full name)…but here in the US people haven’t really heard it before. I’ve had cases where people have looked at profiles of people completely different than me, then justified it by saying “oh you guys all look the same.”

        Just a reminder that due diligence is more than a 30 second search in google, but requires some critical thinking on the part of the searcher.

  20. Rachel B*

    OP’s email is a reminder that even out-of-date sites can end up near the top of Google and Bing. My coworker’s live journal from college appears above his LinkedIn profile, with all his angst about ex-girlfriends and frat parties.

  21. Savvy Working Gal*

    I know of an applicant who was sure she was the frontrunner for her dream job. When she did not get the job she called to ask why. She was told her on-line activity was unprofessional and conflicted with the company’s values. She would have had extensive customer contact and they didn’t want someone with a questionable on-line presence representing their company. She called me asking if she could sue them. I told her no and to consider this a valuable lesson.

  22. OP*

    Alison, thanks for your recommendations, especially on how I might phrase things. Readers, thanks for chiming in with your thoughts.

    Our company culture is pretty laid back and easy going. If it were just a handful of party photos, we might be able to let it slide, but this was just too much. Frankly, after having seen so much of this applicant, I’m not sure if I would be able to keep a straight face if we brought her in for a second interview.

    Several commenters brought up that this MySpace page may be from the applicant’s college days. Good point. A coworker mentioned that MySpace displays a last login date on all profiles. Much to my dismay, the date listed was within the last two weeks. Yikes!

    FYI – For my search, I used the email which the applicant submitted on their resume. (Who uses hotmail for a job application?!), which brought up the MySpace page. The displayed name on MySpace matched the name on the job application.

    Having interviewed the applicant for an hour, I’m absolutely sure it’s the same person. Unless someone with the same first and last name just so happens to look exactly like the applicant. It’s possible, but highly unlikely.

    Another thing that makes me question this applicant is that she’s been very active on MySpace, but hasn’t bothered to set up a LinkedIn profile or personal website. Those are pretty standard in design/marketing. Interestingly enough, applicant’s Facebook has strict privacy settings. Who knows what’s on there!

    1. JT*

      Can someone please explain to me why is bad for a job application?

      Is it because of the word “hot”?

      1. OP*

        I’ve always been under the impression that Hotmail was an outdated email provider. I remember Hotmail being extremely popular about 10 years ago, but it doesn’t strike me as being in touch with latest online trends and technology. Maybe I’m wrong and shouldn’t think of it that way?

        1. JT*

          I think that if you don’t know what the problem, if any, with Hotmail is, you shouldn’t judge it negatively.

        2. Harry*

          I don’t view or care that much about any public email whether it is hotmail, ymail, or rocketmail. What does bother me is if they use the same email for job search as they do for their social media. I have an email for every purpose. Personal, shopping, professional, junkmail, you name it.

            1. Sandrine*

              Not quite.

              I use a laptop with Windows 7 on it. I installed Mozilla Thunderbird. I almost exlusively use Gmail now.

              I currently have 5 e-mail adresses attached to it. I am even so silly that I decided to archive ALL e-mail from 2005 on one of them on my computer… good thing the memory on that thing is ok haha :P .

              Gmail username, password, BAM, setup done, you can even have folders and filters :P .

              (Me ? Geek ? Naaaaah)

              1. Anonymous*

                Me ? Geek ? Naaaaah

                Agreed. For that sort of status, you’d be using mutt with vi as your external editor. Or just doing telnet on port 25.

            2. Nikki*

              Actually, its no hassle. I don’t want to apply for jobs as cutiepie47 and I don’t want all my shopping and various SPAM to NikkiLastname. I have Mozilla Thunderbird, all my accounts are there.
              Might be a hassle to check it on a smartphone or something, but I don’t have one and wouldn’t need to check all those accounts all day long if I did.

        3. Anonymous*

          I believe that you should be listening to the person in the interview rather than just making one assumption based on what type of email provider the person uses. It might be so-called outdated, but it is still around. And perhaps she uses it for everything and it would be too much of a hassle to start making other accounts and figuring out who gets which email address.

          I am really starting to get irritated with how people find these little rules to hold against other people.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’d be surprised if anyone is rejecting someone solely on the basis of what email provider they use. But is it a little factor that gets put into the overall picture? Sure, often it is. A minor one though.

      2. Flynn*

        Hotmail is a pretty crappy email account, but for some reason it’s one a lot of ‘new to computers’ people go straight for. Possibly because their friends have it! (I work in a library and have to help more people with personal email than you would ever think possible).

        It also tends to be unreliable – if they have a hotmail account, our patrons may not get our notices.

        I have one. But it’s only for signing up to stuff publically online and because I wanted a log in for the Yahoo stuff.

      3. OR_Native*

        So what happens when Gmail becomes out of fashion?… I agree, JT, this is a really odd thing to nitpick about. I don’t care what domain people use for email as long as they view it and respond.

    2. ruby*

      Curious about “Who uses hotmail for a job application” comment. What is the negative implication of using a hotmail/gmail/yahoo address as your personal email account when applying for a job? I never saw that mentioned as an issue before. If it were OK that’s bad, but I’d say 95% of applicants I see are using a free web-based email service for their email address.

      1. Lesley*

        I think it’s because hotmail is seen as old school and indicates that the person is not up on current trends. At least, that’s what I’ve heard in my industry. I haven’t heard about issues with yahoo or gmail.

        1. OP*

          It’s not wrong in the sense that it’s bad, but I definitely see it as old school. The applicant was applying for a marketing/design position where they’re expected to be in touch with the latest and greatest developments in the online world.

          FYI – Most of our applicants use gmail or for their email.

          1. JT*

            So they should change the email address they use for professional communications regularly to be sure to keep up with trends?

            This seems like you’re stretching for things to tick off against someone.

            1. OP*

              Working in the creative industry (design, marketing, advertising), keeping up with the trends is a huge part of what we do. We frequently integrate social media into campaigns and advise clients on the latest technological developments, so we expect all members of the team to be on top of this stuff.

              I do see the point you’re making, JT. However, I’m not 100% convinced someone is up to date with the online world if they’re using what for their personal accounts seems outdated.

              1. JT*

                It’s a personal and business account for this person – the person contacted you for business reasons.

                In any case, when I see someone with, say, an AOL or Compuserve address or something old like that, one thing that comes to mind is that they were online early. That is, moderately early adopters of the technology in general. Isn’t that a good thing? But I guess they should switch to be hip or something.

                Wish I still had my email…..

              2. JT*

                “I’m not 100% convinced someone is up to date with the online world if they’re using what for their personal accounts seems outdated.”

                Ask them. Look at what they said they do or know about in their resume or cover letter. Looking for meaning in tiny things like this annoys me – it’s guesswork based on vague assumptions.

              3. OP*

                “…one thing that comes to mind is that they were online early. That is, moderately early adopters of the technology in general. Isn’t that a good thing?”

                That’s an interesting point, JT. I certainly agree that early adoption of the technology is a positive thing. However, I feel that a lot depends on the individual and where they are in their career.

              4. Student*

                You do know that people sometimes use false names, right? Perhaps she uses all the modern social networking tools under a nom de plume, an alias, a pen name, an avatar. I’m rather surprised you didn’t ask her about her social media savvy in the job interview, if it’s so important to your business.

                Maybe she has a very active gmail address, and she gave you the hotmail address because (1) she seldom uses it – so your email will stand out (2) she’s worried that gmail will spam-filter you, especially since you work in social media advertising (3) she has a very tame hotmail address, with just her name, and her other email addresses are more personal (meaning anything from JaneDoeCharityCrusader to the dreaded sexxygrrl1234) or (4)she primarily texts her friends, and primarily uses a company email address that she didn’t want to send out on her resume for fear of accusations of being unprofessional in the use of company email.

                Personally, I’d limit my judging to whatever comes up on the first page of a name – professional keyword search (professional keywords: job title, hobby, blog, prior employer name, etc. unprofessional keyword: naked, drugs, bourdoir, etc.).

                I think the name-personal email search is a fair one to do, but I think you should realize that it has the potential to lead to results that are rather personal, and let that knowledge at least temper your viewing of the MySpace page. If you can get the MySpace page to show up with a less personal search, like if she talks about her job on it, then I’d think it fair to consider it a black mark on her record. However, it doesn’t sound like a normal first-page search result, so I think you may have just hit upon something she didn’t think would be connected to her professional life. Presumably, the clients she’ll interact with for your company will see her corporate email address, and not her hotmail account – so it sounds like they won’t stumble upon her MySpace page (a polite request to make the MySpace thing private for the sake of business, should you hire her, would probably inspire her to immediately fix the issue).

              5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Student, I don’t understand the false name point here, but to the rest of your point: It’s legitimate and sensible to extrapolate from this applicant’s choices about her online presence to assume that she might have bad judgement in other areas too — drinking too much at work events, crossing lines with clients, whatever. It’s certainly possible that that’s NOT the case too, but it’s reasonable to decide not to take that risk.

          2. Anonymous*

            The applicant was applying for a marketing/design position where they’re expected to be in touch with the latest and greatest developments in the online world

            So you would prefer something like john.”@twitter” or even john.”‘); DROP TABLE *;” I think that both of those could qualify as ‘latest and greatest’ in the online world.

        2. Anonymous*

          We are the same on that issue. It has to be a gmail or business account. If we see @hotmail or even worse, @aol, we assume the person is behind the times. It’s harsh but that’s just how it is. I wish I had a nice way to tell people that.

          1. JT*

            It’s not just harsh, it’s silly. I have friends who’ve had the same email address for years – that’s a good thing.

            1. ruby*

              Well, it’s all relative. For this OP, she’s going to judge applicants based on what email service they use and look unfavorably on people who don’t have an address that is au courant. As someone who started working in online marketing in 1993, I think that’s silly but if I’m applying for a job with the OP, it doesn’t matter what I think is silly, it’s what she thinks that counts. It’s a good, albeit slightly depressing, reminder for job seekers that you can only control so much about the process – all hiring mangers have their own likes/dislikes/pet peeves/etc and you can’t anticipate and “correct” yourself for all of them.

              1. JT*

                This whole thing is so self-fulfilling. “Well, lots of people think it’s bad, so the applicant should know it’s bad for that reason alone, which means the applicant’s making a bad choice.”

                It’s unfortunate that our economy is in such a state that this nonsense is taken seriously.

            2. Corporate Cliff*

              Couldn’t agree with you more. I’d also like to add, that with so much getting tied to your email address, from Netflix, to banking, etc., changing it just to “keep up with the times” is unreasonable. It’s a lot of work for such a shallow reason.

              If someone is going to judge me based on my email provider, I’d just as soon work for someone else, as I’m sure the nitpicking won’t stop there.

          2. Kimberlee*

            I agree… I tend to make fun of applicants with a Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL email. Its not a make or break by any means, but it’s like a minor typo on your resume… I won’t NOT hire you if you have the best cover letter and interview, but if its neck-and-neck it’s the little things that count.

            1. OP*

              To clarify, I would never reject a candidate solely because they used Hotmail or AOL for email. It’s not a make or break by any means.

              I would, however, need to carefully evaluate experience in dealing with online marketing, social media, etc. If someone is well versed in the latest happenings of the online world, why wouldn’t they adopt that to use for themselves?

              (Might be getting a bit side tracked here.) The online world is developing and evolving rapidly – the only way to stay current is to be involved. For example, it’s unlikely that a candidate who doesn’t have a personal Facebook account would know the best practices for Facebook brand accounts.

              1. Anonymous*

                If someone is well versed in the latest happenings of the online world, why wouldn’t they adopt that to use for themselves?

                Perhaps because they are well versed in the latest happenings of the online world?

              2. Andrew*

                Perhaps because many of the latest happenings (happenings? Is this 1967?) are unbearably stupid and undeniably ephemeral.

              3. OP*

                I’m writing from the perspective of someone who works in marketing/advertising/design. So much of what we do revolves around innovation and technology.

                Clients expect us to know the latest happenings (yes, that’s how clients like to talk about it) and expect us to make recommendations. If they don’t hear about it from us first (regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not), they’ll drop us for another agency who can keep them better informed.

                Can’t be a web designer if you’re not up to speed on the most current trends for designing for web and mobile. Sure, some of it may be stupid (and part of the job is figuring out what is and isn’t), and a lot of it will change in a matter of months, but that’s expected.

                It might all seem absurd to people in other fields, but this is just part of what we do.

          3. Jamie*

            A business account could be a red flag for me. I don’t want to see that you’re sending out resumes through your current employer’s network.

            The other free accounts are fine, imo, I don’t care if it’s gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc. Some people who are out of work are using the library for internet access – but most people use one of the free accounts rather than the one that comes with their isp because it can be easier to access.

            A hotmail account would make me smile, actually. Kicking it old school, like Chuck Taylors or Vans.

      2. Anonymouse*

        I had no idea that email addresses could be de rigueur! It’s like real estate. Perhaps we wait another ten years and see if hotmail gets gentrified?

        I mean, we all want employees who embrace change just for the sake of change, right? I sure wouldn’t want anyone working for me who is stable and consistent. And since employees don’t get company email, this is going to look outdated in front of my clients. I mean, heck, what if the other employees get wind of it and they savagely beat her in the break room?

        We can only pray that this young lady knows that it’s trendy to start moving her birth date around once she hits 35. To be born in the 1980s will soon be so passe. Otherwise, she’s just not up on the times.

        Crikey, I mean, what if she wears *glasses* instead of getting lasik? Is she over 100?

        Oy Weh! Sarcastic rant over.

    3. Anonymous*

      Wait, she uses MySpace and Hotmail? Maybe she slipped through a space vortex and is visiting us from 2002. In that case, I’d cut her some slack.

  23. anth*

    Wow. My husband has a relatively ethnic first name with the not-so-usual spelling of it. He happens to share the name with someone out there whose myspace profile name is 100% immature and inappropriate. There is clearly an age/location difference that employers who are savvy enough to google him should be smart enough to realize they are 2 different people, but every so often he debates asking the other guy to take his down.

  24. Newbie*

    I definitely think you should inform her. Imagine if you were in her shoes, or if it was a relative of yours. You’d want to know.

  25. Lucy*

    PLEASE tell her! As someone who has been searching for a full time job for the past four years (I’ve done contracting and part time work in the mean time), I would absolutely love it if someone had ever offered me constructive feedback. Please tell her; she needs to know.

  26. Anonymous*

    I would tell her out of common courtesy. A lot of people google others to determine what kind of person they are. Of course employers do it, but I have also heard of landlords, potential dates, lenders, and others doing this. My last job was at a state university and I worked with admissions. We googled every applicant we got and rejected several based on things like near-naked photos, lurid party tales, and the like. Fair or not, everyone is being googled.

  27. ES*

    Just googled myself, and my pinterest account shows up 50 million times. Luckily there’s nothing inappropriate (largely craft links), but hey, it’s good to know it shows up so prominently.

    As for this specific scenario, I’d tell her. But definitely nix the judgement on the using my space thing. Maybe she assumes that because it’s so outdated, it’s a safe space for her to share her pics. I don’t use my space myself, but just because someone else does doesn’t make them inadequate in some way.

  28. Anonymous*

    My firm recently rejected a top candidate because we came across her Facebook and MySpace accounts. These included unprofessional remarks about her current job, insults directed at coworkers, drunken party photos, and near-naked photos. Also, we got the impression that she was updating both sites while she was at work!

    We decided not to move forward with this candidate and mentioned that there was content on her social media profiles raised a red flag. We didn’t say much more. If she had responded in a reasonable manner, I would have been willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. We searched with her name and email, but who knows if those profiles are definitely hers.

    However, the way the candidate reacted via email is a whole other issue. The candidate insisted that we must have found a doppelganger, but worded her email in a way that struck me as unprofessional, rude, and maybe even a little aggressive. I’m sure she was frustrated and angry, but she really needed to stop and think before shooting back a snarky response.

  29. Food For Thought*

    Not too many years ago, someone might have been seen as having questionable judgment for openly having black friends, or being gay. Or the wrong religion. DADT comes to mind. Moral judgment is a slippery slope.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I hardly think there’s a comparison between that and drunken party photos and nude shots. Your examples are about the fundamentals of who people are (race/religion/sexual orientation). This post is about behavior and judgment.

      1. Anonymous*

        People posting near naked photos of themselves online isn’t a racial issue. It’s an issue of judgement. As a minority, I’m insulted by this comparison.

      2. Food For Thought*

        It’s passing moral judgment no matter how you disguise it. A woman wearing pants in 1900 would have been considered someone with scandalous behavior and poor judgment.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, but most people agree that there’s a difference between passing judgment on behavior and passing judgment on race/religion/sexual orientation.

          1. Anonymous*

            Exactly! You can’t change how you were born. You can change how you behave. If someone conducts themselves in an immoral fashion and broadcasts it, they should expect to be judged.

            I recall a former employer of mine firing a man for setting up several webpages with “borderline” child p0rn (links to pictures of very young girls in underwear and swimsuits) and he was escorted out and given a do not trespass order as soon as his activities were discovered. A little moral judgement isn’t a bad thing.

          2. Anonymous*

            most people don’t agree on the sexual orientation one. Many people think sexual orientation is a “behavior” that you can and do pass judgment on.
            (for the most part, people can’t even get married if they are the “wrong” sexual orientation)

            if you agree that “we” as a society have been wrong about sexual orientation (and still are). couldn’t we have been wrong about other things? Passing moral judgment is something you don’t want to do to easily.

  30. RachelTech*

    Just wondering and forgive me if it’s been mentioned, but since the candidate obviously hasn’t Googled herself, and the last time I logged into my MySpace profile was about four years ago, perhaps she doesn’t even realize the page still exists? Perhaps she’s just forgotten it was out there and neglected to cancel it in her transition to Facebook or another social networking site, or perhaps she stopped socially networking in her late 20’s and never gave it another thought. Still on the fence about telling her, but that seems like the most obvious explanation for the issue in the first place to me.

    1. Andrew*

      In the reply which first brought up his silly bias against hotmail, the OP mentioned that he was able to determine that the applicant had herself logged onto the MySpace account fairly recently.

  31. Amy*

    If it were me i’d send a rejection letter and say I am not moving forward with the interview process, then attach some *choice* images from her myspace page. Just to clue her in. This is very crazy, clearly I am not serious but sometimes it makes you think, is this what I need to do to get them to notice. Or maybe include the link to her page.

    1. Student*

      Absolutely unprofessional, and sending her nude photos of herself could easily be considered sexual harassment. Just mentioning that you ran across her MySpace page and it raised concerns about her judgement and professionalism is more than enough to clue her in. Attempting to shame her this way is likely to just make you look bad.

  32. Me*

    I actually have a silly blog I was REQUIRED to have for English class in college. It is the dumbest thing and I am embarrassed for having it. It is poorly written, it’s silly, I think I bash republicans…yes I do. I make fun of things, I am terrible. I recently applied to a very conservative company and when I googled myself, this is the only thing really that comes up! I thought no way, I for sure am not getting the job if they see this (It was a right-wing news station). I tried to delete it. I apparently had changed my email and there was no way for me to re-open my blogspot, or get in any other way. I spoke to Google people on the phone, I spoke to Yahoo about old yahoo email accounts, nothing was able to be opened for me to delete this. It’s out there forever. FOREVER. Lessons learned! My name is very unique, also there’s a giant photo of me in a fairy costume at a festival, pretending to fly, it’s that silly. No passing it off as someone else in this case. I do not feel bad for candidate but think maybe she can’t delete it somehow!

    1. Andrew*

      Bashing Republicans is not in and of itself silly. Many Republicans deserve to be bashed. What ‘s silly is assuming that even a right-wing media outlet would automatically disqualify you for some on-line remarks made long ago. Especially for a technical job, your talent would matter more.

      As for the fairy costume, if you mention it during interviews before they Google you, and turn it into a funny story, no one will care.

      1. Me*

        It was for program director of the radio station, I think they cared about my views, not sure. I ended up not getting the job because I wasn’t the right fit for other candidates were more experienced, which was my real issue. Anyway yes, that’s a good idea to mention this costume, this is assuming I get the interview and it’s before they meet me. :).thanks

      2. Anonymous*

        What’s silly is assuming that even a right-wing media outlet would automatically disqualify you for some on-line remarks made long ago.

        I don’t know what the person wrote on that blog s/he cannot access and delete, but since it is accessible to the public, the company can find it and make judgements. I think a company might, at the very least, wonder why “Me” would bash Republicans only to work for a company that is openly conservative, apparently anyway. With that in mind, it will lead into a company culture fit, and if “Me” is quite liberal, it might not work out. Either “Me” would feel quite left out or if “Me” is a strong personality, then there might be office issues. Yes, people can change from being one ideology to another, but while this is out there, people might find it, ask questions, and make judgements.

        For example, I dare not get into a political discussion for I am a conservative, a minority in my field. I hear people constantly bashing Republicans and the field of candidates right now, and I have heard people say that anyone who doesn’t vote for Obama is stupid. That’s a demonstration of how it could work the other way around for “Me.”

        Oh, and I would suggest to all to not start making this into a political piece on AAM’s blog. If it gets nasty, she can easily shut off the comments…

        1. Anonymous*

          Just to clarify – the person who made the comment about those who don’t vote for Obama are stupid is colleague in another department where I work, but she said it in a common area to another employee.

  33. Charlie*

    Oh dear. I run workshops sometimes for university kids about managing their online presence and using it positively. The number of people who think it is unacceptably vain to Google themselves is fast decreasing and for good reason. Maybe I should do more of them!

    I didn’t know anyone had logged into MySpace in the past three years much less posted any pictures… that girl clearly has a lot to learn.

    If you are applying for a marketing position you should not ‘delete yourself from the internet’ because you will look like you have lied on your CV. And the person hiring you not see you being OCD about your web presence as a good thing, considering you’ll be expected to connect real people with whatever brand you work for, most likely online.

    1. Charlie*

      Whoops I left a bit out. I mean, generally, people have online ‘evidence’ of their past work, jobs etc, especially in marketing etc – if your name came up totally blank that’d be pretty puzzling.
      Apologies for any confusion there.

  34. mh_76*

    Don’t tell her at all, just eliminate her from the pool of potential hires. Responsibility & discretion are required in all workplaces, even retail establishments, and that person clearly has neither and would only be a detriment to your company. Let another employer find that out the hard way.

    In this still terrible economy, there are many many talented candidates who would love to be even considered…ideally, hired…for the positions that need to be filled.

  35. Sandrine*

    I Googled myself again yesterday.

    Thankfully, the most stuff you’ll find about me is under an alias, as to my real name, you mostly find either a photographer or someone selling jewellery. So I guess I’m ok :P .


  36. Kate*

    I’d mention the MySpace page in a rejection email, with some other feedback so it didn’t stick out. Or say, I’d like to wish you the best on your search, since you were a great candidate. You might consider reading some of these articles in the future.. and send a link to an article talking about how to manage your presence online.

  37. Guy*

    Am I the only person that’s not a prude and don’t see the problem with near nude or even full nude shots? Maybe I just come from a more artistic circle then most where things like this aren’t the biggest deal, but instead of assuming she doesn’t google herself why don’t you just bring it up and see how she owns up to it?

    1. Anonymous*

      It’s not an issue of being a “prude”. It’s an issue of not wanting to hire someone who has no discretion or common sense regarding how they share their private activities. If she doesn’t have the sense to keep that under wraps, what else won’t she have sense about?

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      There are some environments where that may be perfectly acceptable. There are some environments where it might not be favorable to the candidate. Depends on the environment. Obviously, here it matters.

  38. Miss L*

    Whenever I’ve hired, I’ve Googled. I once nixed a candidate for running a pretty infamous “pot smoker’s lounge” blog under her real name. It was the right call, because after rejecting her, she called me up and unleashed an outraged diatribe, i.e. “How dare you interview me and not offer me a position???”, etc. (I know AAM was involved in maryjane lobbying, and I think that’s awesome. I toke myself once in a while, and don’t look down on anyone else for doing the same, but believe me, this blog was neither professional nor germane to the job or field I was hiring for.)

    Those who live by their social media accounts may not like to hear this, but sometimes, what you put on the Web is a reflection of who you are. Just ask the perpetually unemployed idiot from my high school graduating class, whose Twitter account (featuring a user name derived from a hybrid of his first name and the word “crunk”), contains curse-word-laden slams of everyone from black babies to Indians to the elderly to President Obama. Choice quotes include, “I want to smack the screaming black babies at the mall,” “Sick of the smelly, retarded Indian guy,” and “I hate this f**king job and wish I was at the game.” His actual quotes also have many more misspellings than my re-creation of them.

    He’s still working retail, and wondering why he can’t break into his chosen field, entertainment management. Methinks he’ll be wondering why “no one will give him a chance” for a long time.

    The media says it’s a “Millennial problem.” Nope! Gen-Xers are equally inept at presenting themselves professionally on the Internet. I’ve seen it too many times, and while it’s excusable, if embarrassing, at age 22, if you’re still doing it well into your 30s or 40s, you look like an abrasive idiot.

  39. Miss L*

    That said, I’d like to end the evening on a high note (no pun intended!), so props to AAM for running an always timely and very thoughtful hiring and management blog.

    Seriously, this is the cream of the crop, and so are the commenters. Kudos.

  40. KellyK*

    I just googled myself, and apparently I share a name (first and last) with an Army Sergeant who was killed in Afghanistan. That’s kind of depressing.

  41. ServantOfOdin*

    Why should employers care about someone having nude photos of him/her online? Oh yeah, I know why, because they’re insecure moronic bastards! Why, in Merlin’s beard, should the sexual activity of a person outside the workplace affect his/her professional evaluation? As an employee, one is supposed to present his/her best efforts and human resources for the betterment of the work at hand; that is what the employer should care about, not whether or not his/her potential employee is indulging in orgies outside the work place!

    If you, as an employer, feel that what this potential employee is doing is immoral, then that is your own personal assessment and NOT your assessment as an employer!

    I weep for humanity…

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