The Christian Science Monitor cartoon above refers to the kind of things you search for online going into personnel files, but much about us can be gleaned well before we're offered the position. As the article above notes:
Job candidates who maintain personal sites on Facebook or MySpace are learning - sometimes the hard way - that the image they present to their friends on the Internet may not be best suited for landing the position they're seeking.
Although many employers are too old to qualify as members of the Facebook Generation, they're becoming increasingly savvy about using social networking sites in their hiring due diligence. That has both job candidates and human resources professionals debating the ethics and effectiveness of snooping on the Web for the kind of information that may not come up in a job interview.
Regardless of ethics, it's happening.
I've tried telling my younger neighbors to be careful about what they put on the web, but some persist in believing that the job market is forgiving. It's not. You may disagree with things that I write, and some employers might think I'm not a good philosophical fit for their companies, but I hope that things I write don't make me de facto unfit for employment. But some of what my neighbors have put online...? I wouldn't hire them.
Facebook may be the new "pregnancy" of the 21st Century. Just as acquiring adult responsibilities way too early in life can have a strongly deleterious effect on that life so, too, can a few minutes of fun on Facebook/MySpace/etc. Should it be this way? Probably not. But it happens (in fact, new human resource companies are creating archives of social networking sites and selling access to employers), so we need to be wise about our online personas.
I mean, what are the odds of Oracle hiring me these days? :-)