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Career Advice: Tension's Brewing Over Internet Use -- Know The Rules

Ramon Greenwood -- In our Internet-dependent world, tensions often arise between security- and profit-conscious employers and tech-savvy employees.

There's tension building between employers and their staffs over use of the Internet at work for both personal and business uses.

Younger staffers, who are usually more tech-savvy than their bosses, are pushing for more access to social networking and others sites, both for work purposes and for when they'd like to take a break from their jobs.

At the same time, many are finding that the sites they are expected to use for researching and communicating for work are blocked; and they are unable to take a break to read a news story on line or check their personal email or social network accounts.

Meanwhile, employers want the advantage of Internet technology, but are concerned about security for confidential competitive information, time being wasted and legal exposure. The result is that many lean toward blocking all or most access.

Career Tip: The Boss is always watching

According to a study by the American Management Association,
-- 76% of the companies surveyed monitor Internet usage;
-- 55% store and review email;
-- 51% use video surveillance;
-- 50% store and review computer usage;
-- 22% record telephone calls.

"Wide-open Internet access is the risky approach," says Chris King, Palo Alto Network. "But to close off all access is "increasingly untenable for cultural and business reasons."

The wise careerist makes sure he understands his employer's policy before blogging, tweeting, sending personal emails, to say nothing of watching sports and downloading movies. (Nearly half of U.S. employers have policies against visiting personal networking or video sharing sites during work hours.) If there's not a policy in place, he asks for guidance. He can be sure that his employer is probably looking over his shoulder, stated policy or not.

Career guidelines

The Associated Press offers career guidelines for using the Web and other electronic devices at work:

-- Remember that anything you do on a company-issued computer or cell phone--in or out of the office--could be tracked by a boss, the courts or a regulator. Many employers monitor Web site use, keystrokes, instant messages, and email. Some even archive text messages on work cell phones.

-- Avoid mentioning your company, boss, or co-workers in outline postings unless you have permission to do so.

-- Avoid using any device to take or transmit any company-related photos, videos, or other recordings without permission from management. This rule includes any images of company buildings or logos and embarrassing or unprofessional photos of co-workers or clients.

-- Know your company's policy on social networking, video Web sites, email and other tech-related activities.

-- Regularly delete personal email from your work account.

-- Remember when searching for a job that many employers check social networking sites, blogs, and other online activity.

The wise careerist follows two pieces of common sense career advice:

1. Know the rules your employer is enforcing for use of electronic devices;
2. Never post anything on a company-owned electronic device that you wouldn't want to appear on the bulletin boards where you work.

You can get coaching on how to protect and advance your career in tough time by subscribing to Ramon Greenwood's free semimonthly newsletter, The Career Accelerator(c). As a bonus you'll receive the 16-page ebook, How To Get A Raise click: For much more free career coaching, visit Your Blog For Career Advice at

© 2009 Ramon Greenwood

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