Face (book) off

by on March 19, 2008 · 6 comments

Over at Business Week, I take the “con” side of the question: “When considering job applicants, prospective employers have no business poking around their profiles on social networking sites.” My conclusion:

the bottom line is that a public Facebook page is just that: public. People are responsible for what they post. It’s unreasonable to make personal information available to the whole world and not expect employers to look at it.

Facebook gives users the option of keeping their profiles private, and so does blogging software such as LiveJournal. Users should take advantage of these options for information they don’t want considered by potential employers. But if applicants choose to make information about themselves available to the world, they can hardly object when employers take that information into account in hiring decisions.

My worthy opponent, Greg Fish, seems to have interpreted the question in a slightly strange way. If the question had been “should employers take inaccurate or irrelevant information into account in hiring decisions,” I’d obviously agree with him. But the solution is to take online information with a grain of salt, not to avoid looking at it altogether.

  • andyinsdca

    One of the problems with using facebook/livejournal/blogger stuff in evaluating a candidate is there might be info that wouldn’t otherwise be available to a hiring manager. Say for example, the candidate is gay (or an atheist, or some other eeeeevil minority) and the hiring manager is a hard-core Christian. The candidate is now dead in the water because of non-inflammatory, truthful posts.

  • andyinsdca

    One of the problems with using facebook/livejournal/blogger stuff in evaluating a candidate is there might be info that wouldn’t otherwise be available to a hiring manager. Say for example, the candidate is gay (or an atheist, or some other eeeeevil minority) and the hiring manager is a hard-core Christian. The candidate is now dead in the water because of non-inflammatory, truthful posts.

  • http://linuxworld.com/community Don Marti

    Managers hear the answers to the Illegal Questions when the candidate is internal. How can you prevent that — make hiring managers use an isolation booth instead of the employee coffee break room?

    For every “drunken pirate” page there are probably 50 or 100 people who don’t put the answers to the Illegal Questions on their profiles, and send friend invitations to me. Should all their work go to waste?

  • dmarti

    Managers hear the answers to the Illegal Questions when the candidate is internal. How can you prevent that — make hiring managers use an isolation booth instead of the employee coffee break room?

    For every “drunken pirate” page there are probably 50 or 100 people who don’t put the answers to the Illegal Questions on their profiles, and send friend invitations to me. Should all their work go to waste?

  • Ryan Radia

    If an employer is concerned about maintaining a good public image. I don’t see why they shouldn’t screen applicants on Facebook or other social networking sites.

    That said, were I in HR, I wouldn’t expect (or even prefer) squeaky-clean applicants who never take risks or have a good time on the weekends. But for some businesses, maybe that’s just the kind of employee they’re looking for. And since Facebook lets you control pictures of you tagged by others, there isn’t much risk of compromising photos being linked to you without your permission.

  • Ryan Radia

    If an employer is concerned about maintaining a good public image. I don’t see why they shouldn’t screen applicants on Facebook or other social networking sites.

    That said, were I in HR, I wouldn’t expect (or even prefer) squeaky-clean applicants who never take risks or have a good time on the weekends. But for some businesses, maybe that’s just the kind of employee they’re looking for. And since Facebook lets you control pictures of you tagged by others, there isn’t much risk of compromising photos being linked to you without your permission.

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