It is now very common for an employer to take a sneak peak at employees on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Here are some rules to follow when using these sites:

Rule 1 – What Are Employers Looking For – It is important that you understand what employers are looking for when they are searching out candidates on these sites. Many experts agree that employers are looking to see the person’s professionalism and how they would fit into the work environment. Employers shy away from potential candidates that show over indulgence in alcohol or drug use.

Social networking sites can also lead you to termination should you be unavailable to go to work and your profile indicates you were overindulging.

Rule 2 – Profile – Your profile should be updated regularly. Even if you are not job hunting, an updated profile could lead you to your dream job from a recruiter shifting through the social networks. You should carefully consider the photos and the message you are sending when posting your profile. You should also pay careful attention to the blogs and links in your profile.

It may be too late to clean your profile up after you have interviewed. Most employers have probably already searched for your profile.

Rule 3 – Friends and Groups – On the same token, selectively join groups. While joining these social network sites to connect with people with similar interests is a good idea, employers are now using the sites as a tool to screen employees and potential employees. If you are actively seeking employment while gainfully employed, it is wise to mark your friends list as private.

Otherwise, your current employer may notice that you made friends with a new company that is hiring.
One should be always be mindful of what is put on the Internet even when you are not looking for employment.

Remember to do your research as not all social networking sites are the same. You should also make sure that the sites you choose have privacy and security settings so that you can choose who is able to view your profile.

If you follow these guidelines, you will navigate well in the social networking arena.

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solutions – Six Sigma Online (SSO) ( ) offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.