The world of recruiting is changing drastically - instead of using a passive method of posting a job and waiting for candidates to arrive, the focus has shifted to active direct sourcing. In order to find quality candidates, the use of internet mining skills has become commonplace.
Social networking sites are one of the gold mines for finding candidates. Profiles, memberships in professional organizations, and resumes abound in these sites. Users on many of the sites focus on their career accomplishments and current industry contacts.
Other social networking sites are more of an online meeting place for people to share personal information. While many of the "pages" are tame, others contain details of a nature that the average job seeker would not want to share with a potential employer. One site in particular was developed for college students; only people with an e-mail address ending in .edu could join. That changed, and now the site is open to anyone. Creating a membership is simple, and allows for searching profiles.
Savvy job candidates, passive and active, should keep this in mind. Think of it this way - if you check out a blind date's page before committing to spending one evening together, it stands to reason that an employer would want to look at the same information before basically marrying you. Recruiters also check out this info to make sure that they aren't presenting a candidate who could turn out to be a potential embarrassment. Sorry, but there it is. I've been told by a candidate "it's none of their business!" to which my response was "you put it on the INTERNET, pal - with your name, city, and a photograph so there couldn't be any mistakes...exactly how private did you think it would be?"
And that's really the key...we all leave our fingerprints on the internet. If they're too sticky, it's just good housekeeping to wipe them up and do some general cleaning.