When a small consulting company in Chicago was looking to hire a summer intern this month, the company’s president went online to check on a promising candidate who had just graduated from the University of Illinois.
At Facebook, a popular social networking site, the executive found the candidate’s Web page with this description of his interests: “smokin’ blunts” (cigars hollowed out and stuffed with marijuana), shooting people and obsessive sex, all described in vivid slang.
It did not matter that the student was clearly posturing. He was done.
“A lot of it makes me think, what kind of judgment does this person have?” said the company’s president, Brad Karsh. “Why are you allowing this to be viewed publicly, effectively, or semipublicly?”
Many companies that recruit on college campuses have been using search engines like Google and Yahoo to conduct background checks on seniors looking for their first job. But now, college career counselors and other experts say, some recruiters are looking up applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational drug use and sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is relative privacy.
When viewed by corporate recruiters or admissions officials at graduate and professional schools, such pages can make students look immature and unprofessional, at best.