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Can I Ask a Personal Question?


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Question: My son graduates from college in May. He’ll start looking for jobs real soon, but his Facebook page has all these photos of him drinking beer and posts about really juvenile crap. I’ve told him that all these things will hurt his job prospects. Know what he says?

“You’ve never been a boss, Dad, how do you know?”

He’s right. I’ve worked construction my whole life to put my kid through college, the first in our family. So I’m asking you because I took some of your advice before about credit cards and zero-percent promo offers and saved serious money. I figure you run a company and hire people. If you agree with me, I’ll show my kid what you say.

If you don’t, well, I’ll show him that too and get off his back.

— Art in South Carolina

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Actually, it’s refreshing to answer a question like this. While I’ll certainly offer my opinion in a moment, as a CPA, I prefer to research a topic before sharing my own thoughts. Here’s what I found.

Just last month, a jobs agency called The Creative Group polled advertising and marketing executives about the very question you posed. While you don’t mention what career your son is pursuing, it’s worth noting that in the advertising and marketing worlds, “63 percent of advertising executives and 44 percent of marketing executives said they search online for information about prospective employees at least some of the time.”

More important than what they see is what they do…

Almost half (48 percent) of advertising executives and more than one-quarter (26 percent) of marketing executives have decided not to extend a job offer to a candidate based on what they uncovered online.

Now my opinion.

Debt.com hires for all kinds of jobs, from writers to business analysts to computer programmers. Because of the nature of our business, we always check out the online presence of our job applicants. We’re on a noble quest to rid America of crippling personal debt. People trust us with their financial details. I need to know our employees are mature and can inspire confidence.

This isn’t about invading anyone’s privacy. I’m equally against that. However, if we can conduct a cursory Internet search and spot troubling signs on page one of the the results — well, that’s not private. When I speak to other business owners, they feel the same.

I now hope your son feels the same.

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