Here’s the non-news flash of the day: employers are checking out your social media profiles, and whether or not they like what they see may have an impact on your ability to get the job.

A recent university study which asked human resources professionals and students to evaluate 56 Facebook profiles has been covered by the likes of Mashable and In the study, participants spent 10 minutes perusing the profiles and then graded them on key personality traits. Six months later, researchers compared the social media reviews with evaluations from the individuals’ employers. Results? When it comes to personality traits such as agreeability and curiosity, there was a strong correlation between the results of the official evaluations and the perceptions based on someone’s social profile.

The researchers drew some conclusions (because that’s what researchers do), a key finding being that perhaps young people don’t have to worry about all of that digital dirt, like they thought they did. “I don’t think a picture of someone holding a beer adversely affected them, but [a picture of you] being drunk in a ditch somewhere might be a negative,” said Don Kluemper, one of the study’s authors.

Probably true, but in certain industries – especially the security-clearance world – the expectation of responsibility and trustworthiness goes a bit farther. Photos of you drunk on your Facebook page might not come up in your security clearance investigation but they could become an issue if a DUI causes a reinvestigation.

In another life, I taught general officers how to use Facebook (really). And the first thing we always did was sit in front of the computer and Google the person’s name. Easy if you’re a Lindy Kyzer, not as easy if you’re a John Smith, in which case, we did a search of both name and title or affiliation. You’d be surprised some of the things we found. Including the Facebook group entitled “Robert Caslen is the Man” referring to a certain three star general, who it turns out, is the Man.

The idea of checking out what comes up in popular search engines isn’t a new phenomenon. And it’s not rocket science. But the heart of the university study making correlations about personality in social profiles is the idea that we all leave an online footprint (or boot print, as it were) – it’s up to individuals, and job seekers, in particular, to pay careful attention to what that footprint is.

A drinking photo isn’t likely to make you lose a job, or a clearance (every service member who’s attended an Oktoberfest party would be in big trouble). But a pattern of irresponsible behavior, displayed for the world to see, does make some predictions about your personality, character and job performance.

So if you know a potential employer is looking at what you post online, what can you do about it? Make sure what you portray is a true reflection of yourself – your sense of humor, candor, or curiosity may all be seen as positives, not negatives. So don’t strip down to the bare bones in what you post online, but do be smart – especially if you have a security clearance.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer