The interwebz can be absolutely amazing. It’s the only place that you can get stuck in a Wikipedia or IMDB wormhole, which is great for trivia night at your local pub but not so great for your work productivity. It’s also the easiest place to meet strangers. Weird as that sounds, it’s true. More people are willing to talk to some stranger on the internet than their neighbor or that one guy you always see on the way to work. Why? You feel that there is an element of anonymity.
This is kind of hilarious because it’s not 1997 and it’s pretty easy to figure out who you’re talking to. Or who you’re about to hire.
According to CareerBuilder, in 2009 45% of jobs were checking out their potential hires on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
35% of employers didn’t hire candidates based on their online profile. So, you know maybe taking that picture of snorting heroine off a hooker’s ass wasn’t the best profile pic. Perhaps your iNterneT Speek showed others why the education system was failing. If it wasn’t any of the above, it could be that when you said that you were a rocket scientist but all of your pictures, interests, and friends comments prove otherwise, then you’re a liar. Companies don’t like that.
Any intelligent person can understand that potential employers want to check out what they’re getting into.
But is it legal?
I don’t have the answers to that, there are too many conflicting ideas and thoughts on the web and all my employment law litigator contacts are buried somewhere in a desk that I no longer sit at. I imagine that if it were, you would need to sign off on something like you do when potential jobs check your background.
My take? As long as it’s not illegal, inflammatory or harmful, who cares? Granted, everyone should take into consideration that the internet has a wide and broad audience and if you don’t want something to be blown up out of proportion, you shouldn’t post it but if you did, you shouldn’t be punished by a potential job.
If you can get into work on time, work solidly and be an integral part of your team what you do in your off hours are your business. If your dumbass friend took that picture of you passed out while your other friend drew a large penis on your forehead, it shows that you might have considerable lack of judgment when it comes to friends but it doesn’t mean you can’t boot up a computer and write a killer proposal.
There should still be a thing as something as off limits when it comes to jobs. They have you for about 8 hours a day for about 48 weeks of the year. If you want to blow off steam in a manner fitting your personality then it’s none of their business.
I have personally seen candidates not get hired based on their Facebook profiles. I tried to persuade him to call the person in but he merely shook his head and claimed that a person who is posting those kinds of party pictures would not be reliable.
I didn’t agree and my respect for that person went down considerably.
The other night I was at my local watering hole when I brought this subject up and randomly a guy next to me jumped into the conversation and said ‘yeah, I’ve not hired candidates based on their Facebook pages’. I found that interesting and we started talking. I understood where he was coming from and we talked about ways to protect your identity and make certain things private but my argument was I shouldn’t even have to do that because what I do on my own time is my business.
The danger of checking someone’s social media pages can be vast. I’ve always wondered if ‘stupid party pictures’ was just a code for not agreeing with their age, race, political affiliation or their looks. It’s a kind of discrimination I think. One that you can’t even sue for because you haven’t even been hired.
I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s not fair to be vetted by some unseen human resources assistant based on something that is supposed to be fun and not on your merit.
I hope this doesn’t cost me a job.