Beware party animals, hardliners and idiots, especially if you're unemployed or looking for a new role. Now that everyone is on Facebook or something like it, employers are more and more likely to complement any reference checking with a well conducted search on social networks.
I have been for roles in the past few years where a probity check was done, checking my employment, criminal and financial background, and I happen to know that Facebook and MySpace were included in the background check. I didn't give explicit permission for the latter, but I don't need to, as putting something on the Internet is entering it into the public domain.
I can happily say that I don't use social media to brag about binging, rant about nationalistic or racial sentiment, berate workmates or employers etc., so I'm pretty safe. Once I'm in a job, I don't post about sick days when I'm sitting on the beach, or divulge commercial-in-confidence information about my employer. The problem is, some people do.
A new trend has emerged, as discussed in this article in The Age, where employers and agencies are conducting more in-depth social media research, sometimes even asking for your user name, and in one odd case, your password. How often are you online, what you post about, and the organisations you affiliate yourself with will impact on their decision whether or not to employ you.
Big brother? Not really, as this stuff isn't private if it's on the Internet.
Even if you are not actively looking for a job, social networks like Facebook are also used by employers to headhunt, looking for the passive job seeker! So if your profile looks good all of the time, you are always putting your best foot forward.