Monday, January 14, 2013

Should Employers "Stalk" Potential Job Candidates FB Profile?

We are quickly changing how potential employers decide who to hire for their job openings. Many are looking at the potential employees FB Profile, Status Updates, Photos, etc... and other Networking Sites to see what kind of a person they really are. Three questions come up for me? 1) Is it legal? 2) Is it good etiquette? 3) Is there any possibility that this might work out to a candidate's favor vs. detriment?

Legal? If you are not allowed to ask questions that would cause discrimination in an in person interview - why would you be able to "ask" the same questions by looking at their FB information. An example question would be "Do you have children"? So what do you do if you go look at a candidate's profile and you see they have children and then you decide not to hire her because you believe that will be a drawback to doing the job. The problem here is - how would anybody know why they weren't hired for that reason. They probably wouldn't. I don't ever remember being told too many details or specifics of why I wasn't hired for a job other than the other candidate had more experience.

It is clear that it is unclear the legal ramifications for somebody to examine a person's FB profile in the Job Interview process. And we also know that once you post something public (even if you are trying to keep most things private) you have to be prepared that a potential employer will possibly be peeking or stalking your FB Profile. So you can not be on it at all, or have 2 profiles public and private or just keep your profile clean and job interview worthy.

Etiquette? If an employer can legally look at your FB Profile, the other question is how cool or not cool is that? And if its not cool, then would you want to work for that company anyway. I suggest that you ask up front when you apply for a position about their Social Media Policy and the looking at potential employees FB/Other SM Networks for more information. Then you can decide to either clean it up and hope for the best or move on and apply to another company.

Could It Be To a Job Candidates Advantage? When I discuss this topic of companies "snooping" around on FB, I always get mostly feedback that it is wrong. That companies shouldn't be in their personal lives. 

I would like to play Devil's Advocate: Is it possible that they actually find something that they like about you that they would have never known in an interview or on a resume? You are uniquely you and that is hard to see in a stuffy, formal interview. Most people's profiles and status updates I see (of my friends) there is nothing a potential employer would be upset about instead they would find a lot of really redeeming qualities. 

So instead of the knee jerk reaction that it is a completely bad thing, take a step back and consider it might be good and helpful to your job chances. I know that many times I have thought after an interview, that I didn't do great or that if they could only get to know me for more than a 30 session, they might really like me and want to hire me. So I think that FB is advantageous for many people. And if they don't hire you because they saw something they didn't like - do you really want to work for them?

Before you start applying for jobs, I would do a little clean up work on your profile, adding some cool things that would help with the job application process and you might even offer that they take a look at it. 

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