Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Social media snooping: unsavory, but real

Who cares if this is your public/private image? They do.
Credit: urbancountrynews
Lisa Balbes posts about hiring tips and myths over at the ACS Careers Blog. I think it's all really good advice and I suggest that you go over and read the whole thing. I thought this section was interesting:
Hiring professionals make their living researching and reading people.  They may talk to your friends and family, co-workers, and will read your online social networking profile and postings.  Any publically available information is fair game (including your Facebook or Linked In profiles), so make sure you know what’s out there about you, and start cleaning it up now, if needed.  Be especially careful of whom you let tag you in online photographs or comment on your pictures or posts. 
The interview begins not when you meet the interviewer, and not even when you enter the building, but the minute the company receives the first contact from or about you.  From then on, everything you say and do is considered as part of the package.  You are never off-stage.
I keep a pretty tight lid on my 'personal' social media use. My Facebook page is pretty private and you can't look around in my photos (I think.) I don't accept random friend requests, etc. For the most part, I don't go looking around in other people's info, or photos or Timeline (ugh!) While a LinkedIn profile or a Google search seems to be fair game, it does always seem that Facebook snooping is a fairly common tactic for employers. You have to ask yourself -- why?

It's the information asymmetry, I think. You'll always know more about yourself and your history as a entrepreneurial Louis Vuitton replica dealer past than they will. They (the employer) desperately want to know what you're incentivized to hide from them. Making the wrong hiring decision can seriously hurt a company -- they're thinking about themselves and not your privacy.

That said, I still think it's certainly unsavory and somehow wrong. But that doesn't mean that employers won't use these tools, and that they won't take advantage of open-access social media if you let them. So maybe it's a good idea to delete that picture of that wild night in Cabo your spring break.

18 comments:

  1. Good topic. Keeping photos relatively private is very important, as it potentially creates a bad false impression if you see a "drunk me" photo when it was just because it was my brother's wedding and normally I am moderate.

    I have a pseudonym that I use for hobbies online, because I don't want that hobby they find online to be the reason I get removed from consideration. I am fine talking about not-work in an interview.

    Though in a way, if someone will take me off the interview list because I like one sport over another or one team over another, then maybe that is not the place to go to work.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What's wrong with the photo by the way? Dude looks fine. Like he's thinking about what to answer and just starting the answer when you ask him what the spin of a tetrahedral Fe(II) is.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is why I have not joined "The Facebook". I prefer the much better "My Face".

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/hl-40057732/the_league_bobbum_man_season_3/

    So much more interactive.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe this is a new service that could spring up on career centers on colleges and universities: a complimentary social media snooping. Along with reviewing your resume, conducting a mock interview, career centers could also look online for risky stuff that hiring professionals may find.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a darn good idea, really.

      Delete
    2. That is a brilliant suggestion, and likely more useful than most of the "career counseling" that colleges do.

      Delete
  5. Well, It makes sense to me. Since all the hiring and candidate selection is done by the machines, HR people must occupy themselves somehow, right? Probably by surfing the net, meaning Facebook, and if they are already on a Facebook page they may as well do something useful.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This blog (and the media as a whole) are behind the times on just what employers are interested in.
    It’s been true for quite some time that an employer will ask you for:

    1. Your facebook password. No such thing as a private facebook account.
    2. Ask you if you sponsor any social media or website, then ask you for any relevant passwords.

    No doubt they’ll ask you for your e-mail passwords next. As jobs run scarce and the government is bled of resources anything is possible. The below article is O.K. There is no ‘should’ since they ‘will ask’ and you should be prepared to bare all.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/02/should-employers-be-allowed-to-ask-for-your-facebook-login/71480/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well played, Anon. [slow clap]

      Delete
    2. I've got nothing incriminating on my Facebook, but I'd be uncomfortable revealing my password. It's too personal; almost like asking to see a job-seeker naked. I really hope this doesn't catch on - right now I'd turn down a job opportunity if a company asked me to do this, but if it becomes a standard practice, I can either stick to my principles or go to work at Burger King.

      Delete
    3. I agree. I think I would tell them to shove it pretty quick. I'm no fan of legislation, but I think this is something to be addressed at the Federal level.

      Delete
  7. I wouldn't want to work for anyone that had a problem with me having a drink (not pathologically or before/during work, of course). And if they asked for my facebook login I would take it as a cue to leave immediately.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Understandable in the current economy, but it's happening everywhere, even at the Chicago Police Department. First Amendment, anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Regarding the Facebook login details, I think the appropriate way to handle it would be to politely but firmly say no. If asked why, say something along the lines of "If I don't protect my own personal, confidential information, how could you trust me with the company's information?" Either they'll see your point and drop it (or perhaps even count it in your favor) or they're really not worth working for anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anyone who asks for the passwords of a potential candidate's private accounts cannot be taken seriously, and anyone who'd give up those passwords on demand is a security risk. Maybe it was a test. If you're willing to give that stuff up to land a job, you're likely to pretty much do anything for money, and might be willing to give up sensitive information about your current company to advance elsewhere.

    I'd love to know if anyone has actually had this request made, or was that statement merely hyperbole?

    I talked with a friend of mine who works in an HR hiring capacity about this initial post. They said that a LinkedIn profile is fair game, but for the most part, no-one goes looking at other social media for clues about a person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was under the impression it was "legal but unproven", but Anon0308p up there has come up with a case:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/02/should-employers-be-allowed-to-ask-for-your-facebook-login/71480/

      I assume that it's rare, and it doesn't happen at larger companies (do their computers connect to Facebook, even? My old computer at MegaPharmaCorp did not.)

      Delete
    2. Ours do.

      I've heard of school districts forbidding their teachers from being on Facebook, but I've never heard of someone explicitly asking for the password to any account or EMAIL. Can they ask to see your on-line profile? Sure, require them to accept a FB request, but to give a potential employer access to an account, where they could change/edit/delete things? I just don't anyone needing that type of access, except maybe positions that require high security clearance. Chances are those agencies have ways to winnow down their potential applicants other than having to access someone's social media accounts.

      A credit history or a drug test will tell a great deal more about a person than their Facebook posts, and I do know that many companies run those checks.

      Delete
    3. I think the likeliest scenario where this would happen is not at a larger organization (like the county correctional dept. above), but at a smaller company, where the HR department is one person (or two people). You're much likelier to be ruled by the whims of one person there, the employer doesn't want to spend money on background checks and you're dealing with a labor pool that has fewer options.

      It's one of the few times where I'm thinking "there oughta be a law..."

      Delete