The perils of modern technology take new but inevitable twists ... there have been numerous examples of bloggers who've been fired for blogging about their jobs so it was just a matter of time until Twittering landed someone in hot water. In this case, it was a job applicant rather than an employee - and while the entire episode may have been blown way out of proportion, it is a cautionary tale about the increasingly transparent world of social networking. While the numerous benefits of the new communication and networking tools are apparent, some of the perils may be less so as employees, applicants, and HR managers navigate these uncharted waters.
The case at hand was a job applicant who Twittered to her friends - and anyone else who happened by - that, "Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work."
Shortly after unleashing this ill-thought tweet, an insider from Cisco replied with, "Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."
The upshot is that this was not a case of job termination by Twitter, as it has been billed in mainstream media. It's not even clear if Cisco did indeed reject this candidate's job application based on the tweet. But the point remains - 140 characters or less can have repercussions on the job.
And whether or not the prospective employer exacts a toll, the original Tweeter has paid a price. As many before have learned, "the internet" can be harsh and unforgiving in the face of a faux pas. The "fatty paycheck" episode quickly spawned a number of unflattering blog posts and YouTube clips. Online sleuths (bullies?) quickly dug up her identity, her website, her photo, and her resume. After being subject to a few days of intense and scathing Internet infamy, you can read the applicant's side of the story on her blog.
In this case, it's the job applicant who got stung, but it could as likely be the HR manager tomorrow. But there's no sense throwing out the baby with the bathwater, the tool isn't the problem, it's how the tool is used. In 10 Essential Twitter Etiquette Tips, blogger Halfbrown offers some very sensible advice, with a few tips thrown in. One rule of thumb that we think is fundamental: Anonymity is a myth - don't say anything online or in an e-mail that you aren't prepared to live by and defend on or off the job.
George Lenard and guest posters at George's Employment Blawg have frequently posted about the perils of blogging, both from an employee and an employer viewpoint. Many of the same principles are at play with Twitter, which is often referred to as micro-blogging. Here are a few pertinent posts:
Should You Really Write that in a Corporate Blog? Legal Guidelines for Company-Sanctioned Blogs
Ready, Aim, Fired - Blogging Employees in the Spotlight Again