Neil Pickford - Let’s not get too personal about things

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Last week there was another of those stories that warns people about the dangers of putting too much personal information on social networking sites because it could have a damaging effect on future job prospects.

Apparently, and not at all surprisingly, lots of employers have taken to doing internet research on prospective employees and the content of social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, has been taken into consideration when deciding whether to make a job offer or not.

As someone who has made job offers in the past, I can certainly see the attraction in getting to know a bit more about the person you could be working alongside, which just adds to the pressure I feel whenever I dip my toe back into the world of social networking.

I’m never really comfortable in such places. Self-doubt about whether my life is interesting or cool enough to write about in public have been major factors in what I have or haven’t made public.

There is such a pressure to being funny, clever, relevant or controversial with your tweets or postings.

You can be any of these things, but don’t ever be boring or dull.

And don’t be geeky, unless you intend to come across as geeky and it is done ironically.

Everything you write is recorded for posterity and reflects on YOU –

just like your ipod collection.

I like to think that I have a pretty broad but cool music taste, but was horrified to learn that the ipod I thought had been lost had been studied by colleagues to find out if they could identify the owner by the music collection.

Apparently, my selections, including the Manic Street Preachers, REM and Madness, led the finders to think that the owner was one of my colleagues in his early 20s.

I am not sure if that is a compliment, but it reinforced my views that musical tastes, just like opinions, are fiercely personal, which is why new Twitter account @NeilPickfordET will reveal plenty about my professional life and the newspaper I work for, but little or nothing about my musical tastes or personal titbits.

But, for the record, my current favourite song is Your Love Alone Is Not Enough, my favourite TV show is Supernatural and my favourite book is All Hell Let Loose – and that’s quite enough personal info for you to be going on with.