We're heading into that time of year when businesses may pick up a college intern for the summer or, better yet, hire a new graduate on staff.
If they've had any coaching, they assume you're going to check them out online making sure no unflattering spring break photos pop up on Google images.
It raises a lot of questions:
1. What off time, but online image, is too unprofessional for your organization?
2. Do you have a criteria for assessing what you find?
3. Is it so strict that you're going to have a hard time finding young talent?
The fact is that if you're ruling out every young professional with a MySpace of Facebook page, you're going to have a very thin pool of candidates.
Here's a modest proposal:
Instead of quietly blackballing a young candidate, coach them to clean up their online prescence. Assuming everything else about them is attractive to you, guide them in what you expect from them.
- Advise them to tighten the permissions on their social networking pages.
- Give them some guidelines of what pictures and other forms of self-expression are acceptable and what is not. Give them an amnesty period to clean up their profiles.
- Warn them that the company reserves the right to periodically check them out in the search engines.
- For the twenty-something just starting out in the professional world; the Internet to them has always been a playground. Introduce them to the Internet that is also the business world. Show them sites and blogs relevant to your business. Train them to use online business tools like Salesforce.com and Highrise.
Remember: you were once twenty one, too, and someone took you under wing. Someone told you how to dress, the importance of showing up on time for work, keeping your cool and losing the quadruple pierced ear.
Now, its your turn to do the 2009 version of the same thing.