Image can be on and off work

Published 2:02 pm Thursday, December 18, 2008

A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders; Making the Team 3 on CMT (Country Music Television).

“America’s Sweethearts” are probably the most recognized cheerleading squad in the world and as such, there are very high standards set for members.

The show gives viewers an intimate look at the audition process from the 1,000 women that show up at initial tryouts to the 45 who make it to boot camp. Applicants are based on athleticism, dance skills, football knowledge, personality and overall style.

During an episode the viewer is shown scenes from boot camp which can vary from the fitness challenge to learning routines. At the end of each episode you see some of the girls called into DCC Director Kelli Finglass’s office for a personal evaluation or dismissal.

On this particular episode a young lady was called into the office and dismissed from the squad. She wasn’t dismissed because of her dancing skills, or lack thereof, in fact she was quite talented. She was dismissed because there were photos posted on her MySpace page that could be viewed as racy and that is not the image the DCC wants to project.

That episode emphasized the point that, while it may seem unfair, once something is posted on the internet it is out there for the public.

Employers are looking more often at these social sites to see what potential, and current, employees have posted and may make staffing decisions based on what they see.

That DCC candidate was not the first person to lose an opportunity due to an internet posting. Katie Rees, Miss Nevada USA 2007, lost her crown after racy photos of her at a Florida nightclub ended up on the MySpace page of an escort service owner.

A sheriff’s deputy in Florida was fired because his profile had “disturbing details such as his job description and a picture of him in his uniform,” according to one news source. In addition, the deputy listed among his favorite things “drinking heavily and often.”

Teachers in Florida and Las Vegas have been fired after posting things their supervisors deemed “inappropriate.”

It just goes to show that while things posted online might seem harmless and fun, they can have a big effect on your future. Employers want to know the people they hire will represent their organization well, even when they are off the clock.

Heather Lifsey is a Senior Sports Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. She can be reached via email at