Is your Professional and Personal Identity online the same and why?

Lets paint the scene with a little fiction ...


Jane a Manager of HR for a prestigious advertising firm had finally been given the go ahead from the HR Director Charles to prepare an offer for Lisa a Creative Director – where a Creative Director position had been open for months.

The process was gruelling: 10 candidates sourced internally, screened down to four; plus four from an recruiting agency. A panel style presentation interview to include 8 members of a Design and Marketing the team - checking for and evaluating Personality/Culture/Team fit, business knowledge, creativity, design skills and yes the dreaded behavioral interview ...


After all that Lisa came out the lucky winner ... Jane thought “ I don’t want to go through that again, but we have our girl”, or so she thought. References came back from the reference checking vendor ``A`` ok.


That was last Friday ... Monday morning Charles the Director of HR walks in to Jane’s office to say a member of the interviewing panel found some pictures on Lisa’s facebook showing her drunk out of her mind and Partying it up with her Girlfriends at some night club and after seeing them for himself said, "Perhaps we should delay making that offer just yet. We do have a reputation to protect and what would the other team members think ... `` Jane almost fell out of her seat.


She was not prepared to go through that gruelling process again and there was full consensus that they had the right person for the Job, the References came back solid from all of her former bosses in the last 8 years of her Career.


I will end our little story here ... We could argue that the “private” pictures on Facebook should in no way be apart of the assessment in deciding, is Lisa right for the Job and we can back that up: References solid, perfect fit for the role, great personality, excellent creative skills, knowledge of the market. Her LinkedIn profile also backs this up great references from colleagues, peers, bosses etc... Did Lisa make a mistake by creating a Personal Facebook Profile using her real name as she did on say LinkedIn? Is her assessment incorrect? Does she not have the skills? Is there something wrong with her Interviewers, namely the Director? Does he have a point? All valid questions.


I would like to propose that we keep our online identities separate. A Professional LinkedIn profile and a Private Facebook profile. What’s wrong in having a nick name on your Facebook Account – you can invite your friends and family; They know who you are already and they would understand. You can`t type my name Paul Alfred on Facebook and find me but that`s me ... I get to keep a Professional profile online and still have a non-criminal life after 6pm.


The obvious question is: Should our personal life impede on who we are professionally? In Lisa’s case, everything checked out. She was the perfect fit for the role an 8 member panel confirmed that.


Until we crossed the “It’s my private life “ line .... And, “It’s none of your business ...”


Or is it ... Perhaps for another blog...

Views: 98

Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 11, 2010 at 3:57pm
Good idea Paul to use a nickname if one is concerned about people in their office or their customers having access to things they wouldn't want to share on the front page of the local newspaper. I have always been a little surprised that people will put stuff and pics on their facebook or myspace or whatever pages that they would not talk about to anyone but their closest friends and family. Perhaps it originates with the often private way it is posted; ie sitting in one's PJ's at home alone, logged on appears to give peeps the feeling that what they post for friends to see is somehow more private.

As to the specific example you gave, the fact that this is an advertising firm put a bit different light on it than perhpas would happen in other industries. Think about it. Someone who has a background in advertising as a creative director who would not be more atuned to what was out there would be to me more of red flag than perhaps someone who was not in the advertising sector.

It has been my observation that right or wrong, many companies take the attitude that if their employees are doing things after work that reflect badly on the company it becomes company business to some extent. For instance, an employee of your company gets busted for selling drugs, your clients start asking you about it. Do you take the attitude that it's his private life or do you let him know in uncertain terms that his "private life" is not acceptable. Yes, we are talking about illegal stuff here so is that different. Your employee is a party animal, he's doing fine at work but several clients mention that they have seen him out in the joints sloppy drunk, making an ass out of himself and he's got pics all over facebook of his happy self drunk as a skunk. Now that he has made it public that his private behavior is pretty obnoxious, do you get involved, does it impact your business rep?

My take: illegal activity, you are out of here. Messy obnoxious stuff, Ok kid, i don't care what you do when you walk out the door but if it goes public anymore you can take your rep somewhere else where the company is not associated.

If that is the way it is after hire, should it be the same before hire?
Comment by Paul Alfred on November 11, 2010 at 6:11pm
Thanks for your response Sandra, I think its tricky if we remove facebook for a second the reality of Lisa's Private Life still remains the same ... Here we have no proof of it and to inquire about it crosses the line .... Someone on the Assessment team went looking -did they cross the line on privacy.... ?
Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 11, 2010 at 9:28pm
That question will probably end up in the courts. All i can tell you for sure is that she crossed the line on stupid or she is covered up with bad judgement, therein lies the rub.

It is right up there with, if a tree falls in forest and no one hears it does it make a noise.

Does the fault lie with the person who looked or the person who flops something out there in a public venue then gets pissed when somebody sees it. She gives up her privacy when she makes it public. How would you feel about it if they hired her and told her that if she was going to work there they would like for her to keep her private life private and not post pictures of her sloppy drunk dumb ass in any public place. I see it as no different than sticking her picture on a bulletin board in a laundry or a restaurant then screaming violation of privacy if somebody sees it.

If you wouldn't do it and i wouldn't do it and most prudent people wouldn't do it then let's use the prudent man theory. Conversly, Would most prudent hiring managers or recruiters go looking. I think so.

Let's assume that she would be working with customers in her new position. Would a customer be violating her privacy if the customer went looking on the net to find out about the new Creative Director - how about the guy next door, what about co-workers, . One can not put stuff out in the public domain then scream violation of privacy if anyone doing a search could find it.

She crossed the line of common sense when she put it out there. My thinks
Comment by Paul Alfred on November 12, 2010 at 6:42am
You make some great points Sandra ... Because of Social Media we are now forced to watch what we do in our Private lives .... Its the reason why I have proposed keeping separate identities ...
Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 12, 2010 at 10:21am
I don't think social media forces us to watch what we do in our privatie lives. It is the strange attitude of people who would never go get sloppy drunk, have their picture taken and send it to the newspaper or the TV station in their home town but they will put the same picture on a media communication that never stops showing it.

The other thought i have is that the newspaper wouldn't print it and the TV station would not show it unless the person were a well known person that everyone would know and want to see so perhaps some people blast their private lives all over the internet trying to be well known then don't like the "famous" result.

Common sense has dictated that we keep our private lives private since the first caveman took off his loin cloth in the cave and got rocks thrown at him for running around in front of everybody with his privates on public view. :) Don't ask me how i know that to be true.
Comment by Paul Alfred on November 12, 2010 at 10:31am
U Kill me ... So before SM we can party it up and now we don't because their might be a chance even if its minor that it could be made public what we do in our private lives ... You see where I am going with this ... Ofcourse we could right a blog saying why we should watch what we do in our Private lives because of SM if we have an Online Identity private or otherwise ...
Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 12, 2010 at 1:21pm
No i must not have made my thought clear. Folks have been partying it up for all eternity. Most of the time if they made an ass of themselves it was limited to the people they were with or the other folks in the same location because they didn't and still don't broadcast ,in any media pictures and long descriptions about how drunk they got last night. If you went dragging into the office with a world class hangover, you didn't put pictures of the scene of the crime on the company bulletin board or regale all your co workers with the story of how you got blasted, took off your clothes and climbed into the fountain in front of the public library. It was just common sense that somebody would think you were an idiot or you would be asked not to discuss your private life at work.

Social media doesn't make the difference. We don't have to watch what we do in our private lives just have enough sense not to post it on the net. Just like we didn't post our escapades on the company bulletin board. One's online identity is created by what we choose to put out there or allow our friends to put out there.

I know folks who do some really crazy shit. They just don't have a burning desire to flop it out to the world any more than they would yuck it up about it at church.

Think of it this way, when you were in high school did you post pictures in the teacher's lounge or principal's office that you cheated on a chemistry test or got loaded and painted the grafetti on the side of the building or tell your parent's best friends that you lied about where you went last night. So the same reasoning applies with Social Media. Do what you want to do. If it is something you do not want the world to know for any reason just don't broadcast it.

Private means not public. Anything that is made public is no longer private ergo if the internet is a public venue there can be no expectation of putting your private life in a public venue then screaming because somebody violated your right to privacy if they saw it and took offense. You in fact abdicated your own right to privacy. If somebody else posts your private business without your permission you have a right to scream and get it taken down immediately or sue the hell out of them.

You have my permission to party it up all you want to. Just don't tell me about it. If you need to talk about it world wide, your suggestion of using another identity is very valid. If you don't use your picture for the screen name "party animal" you will never know if my anonymous screen name "voyeur bitch" was one of your connections...and neither of us could talk about it without revealing our "private" lives. :)
Comment by Paul Alfred on November 16, 2010 at 11:30pm
You know Sandra I really want to have you show me around your City some time ... You kill me every time ...
Comment by Elouise MacFarlane on November 22, 2010 at 5:00pm
I am so sad I missed this discussion!! Sandra i love it!! Why is it that facebook is so real and we merrily identify ourselves. All the other sites going back to the nineties, dating sites, forums dungeons and dragons... all encouraged a bit of anonimity and mystique... yet face book has some how managed to get us to blatently reveal not only our names, but all sorts of identifiable data and i don't just mean things from a privacy perspective. Why? Fortunately as a twice married woman i have 4 last names to choose from and several versions of my first name (some which make mea appear to be a man (surprisingly)), even without resorting to my middle name!!
Comment by Paul Alfred on November 22, 2010 at 5:06pm
Ok I will stay out of this conversation .... :)

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