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Online Venters Beware

Posted by: Emily Thornton on March 03, 2009

With thousands of people laid off each day, it’s not surprising that ex-employees are flooding web sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn with complaints about their former employers.

But online venters should beware: Potential future employers are on to you. Companies are increasingly searching such sites to vet potential new hires for bad attitude, says Jo Prabhu, founder and CEO of recruiting firm

Some are relying on such web site searches instead of traditional background checks. Why? Companies find they can gather a great deal of information about a job candidate from these sites without paying $150 for a background check. Many also feel they learn much more than whether a person broke the law or failed to pay credit card bills.

“This is a cost effective way to reject someone,” Prabhu says.

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Reader Comments

Thomas Huynh

March 3, 2009 03:07 PM

Emily, is the problem here the venting or the character of the person who vents? If a company erroneously hires a bad employee because he or she never vented on the internet, inevitably the company will see they have an employee with a bad attitude on their hands based on the employee's work and interactions with others. Now nobody's happy. Both painful and expensive. Therefore better to find out sooner than later. Thomas

Jo Prabhu

March 4, 2009 09:13 AM


The answer is more about an employee 'fitting' the culture of the company and the job they are applying for.

With the public posting of one's personal information on the internet, it is easy for an employer to visit any of these websites and determine if a person is appropriate to be an ambassador for their organization.

Every employee needs to understand that any internet posting past or present will be scruitinized and therefore my only advice to anyone looking for a job is to be careful of what you post because it can come back to hurt you.

Thomas Huynh

March 4, 2009 08:01 PM

Hi Jo! I understand where you are coming from. Emily's blog entry reminds us to reconsider posting things on the Internet we might regret later which is always good advice even if you're not seeking a job. Thomas

Lesly Simmons

March 13, 2009 11:36 AM

This is great advice for everyone, working or not. Current employers who may be considering layoffs at some point can easily learn which employees are dissatisfied, and let that influence future staffing decisions. And we've all heard of people losing jobs after complaining about work online.

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How can you manage smarter? BusinessWeek writers Nanette Byrnes, Patricia O’Connell, Emily Thornton, Matthew Boyle, Michelle Conlin and Diane Brady synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

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