The Tweet That Kept Me From Hiring You

By Carrie Kerpen I have hundreds of recent college graduates applying for jobs with our company. And, because recruiting great talent is singlehandedly the most important part of our service-based business, I meet and approve every candidate that is being strongly considered for a full time position.

In order to get an entry level full time job at Likeable Media, students have to intern with us through our Buzz Builder program. This program provides them with the training and skills needed to effectively manage communities for our clients, and it also lets us get to know their skill sets, and where they'd be a best fit in our company. Because we all connect through Facebook groups and such, I am personally connected to just about everyone who has ever worked at or interned at my organization.

This week, Coach Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State University in perhaps one of the largest sports scandals in our history-- the giant cover-up of Coach Sandusky's raping of a child in the Penn State locker room. Paterno could have fired this man when hearing of this eyewitness account at any time, but instead, he followed only his legal obligation to report it to his superior, while letting this man continue to function in society. I watched as the kids on the campus rioted and protested this firing with shock and awe. As with any big scandal, people have taken to Facebook and Twitter to express their opinions about the matter. Many people, including myself, have expressed passionate views on the matter.

I have always told the college kids that I've mentored to be transparent about who they are as people. I've told them to control their privacy settings when it comes to those drunken night pictures. I've told them to remember that everything is out there eternally. I've hired people with different political beliefs. I've hired people who have made mistakes and openly admitted them. I've hired people who I would never hang out with outside of work.

But when it comes to controversial matters such as this one, it might not be the best policy to be transparent.  At the end of the day, your employer makes the ultimate decision about who they will hire and personal beliefs aren’t always easy to separate from business. What can you learn from this? Employers watch what you put out there on social spaces, and they make judgments based on those spaces. And you need to be prepared that your transparency (which is ultimately a good thing) is going to have an effect on where you end up in life.

Of the two principals at Likeable, I am the reserved one. I don't typically post anything controversial, and I rarely toe the line. And by posting this, I realize that I risk that my own transparency could bite me in the tush. (I don't think Penn State will be calling me to represent them anytime soon, I'll probably lose a few Buzz Builder Facebook friends, and if a client of mine really loves Penn State football, I could be in the total doghouse!) But in the end, I felt that my own belief was strong enough to post, just as these buzz builders may have felt that their posts about Coach Joe were important enough to post. I am prepared to accept the ramifications of my post. The question is-- are you?