Monday, August 31, 2009

Job Interviews and Facebook

With the start of classes just two short days away, its time for me to start blogging again. I've previously used this blog as a means to communicate with my students outside of the classroom and to comment on current information privacy and security news. The media is replete with stories on these topics. There are also a number of blogs that focus specifically on these topics - many of which are listed in my blogroll.

As I scanned the headlines today I noticed a number of items of interests. In particular, I noticed a story in the New York Times entitled More Employers Use Social Networks to Check Out Applicants. According to the article,
45 percent of employers questioned are using social networks to screen job candidates — more than double from a year earlier, when a similar survey found that just 22 percent of supervisors were researching potential hires on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn.
The study also found that "35 percent of employers decided not to offer a job to a candidate based on the content uncovered on a social networking site."

The study stated that
More than half of the employers who participated in the survey said that provocative photos were the biggest factor contributing to a decision not to hire a potential employee, while 44 percent of employers pinpointed references to drinking and drug use as red flags. Other warning signs included bad-mouthing of previous employers and colleagues and poor online communication skills.
Im sure many students, especially seniors looking for jobs, already regularly clean up their facebook profiles and remove potentially incriminating material. This is certainly a good practice, but the broader questions remain.

Should employers be allowed to scan facebook profiles of potential employees? Are employers treading on shaky legal ground by denying jobs to qualified individuals based on information discovered in their facebook profiles? Is it fair to judge a candidate on material found within their facebook profile?

1 comment:

Jessica said...

This article is really interesting because it relates to something my dad told me the other day. When considering an employee for promotion to partnership in the business, the company looked through the potential's Facebook and found evidence of some illegal actions he had partaken in while working for the company. (My dad was not allowed to disclose any specifics.) The employee had denied participation in these activities when previously approached about them. As a result, not only was he not able to receive the promotion, he was fired from the company after finally admitting. This story served to prove my dad's point when he constantly discourages my use of Facebook and says that anything you do, especially if you lie about it, can come back to haunt you. On a related topic, when I started applying for colleges I remember rumors being spread that university admissions officers could get access to Facebook accounts and consider them in the admittance decision. I’m not sure if this is true but I wouldn’t doubt that some colleges may consider it.
Now, related to the bigger questions, I do not think it is wrong for employers to scan potential employees’ Facebook profiles. Honestly, we willingly put up everything that appears about us on Facebook for the entire world to see. Granted, most people do not usually consider the fact that anyone and everyone can somehow get access to their profile but at the same time we need to remember that we are not invincible. Whatever is put on the internet is free game and will be for longer than we think. A Facebook profile, however, should not be the only factor in deciding to deny a job to a qualified individual. Just because an individual has inappropriate pictures posted of them on a Facebook profile does not represent their whole person. At the same time, those applying for jobs and even those who are not should be cautious of what they post and what is posted about them. Now more than ever, one bad decision, especially if documented, can change the rest of your life.