CNN: Facebook and Job Seekers

Jason Morris

I guess CNN didn’t read our White Paper on Social Networking Sites prior to writing this story.  Had they, the story might have been more of an expose.  Fact; employers are using social networking sites to vet prospective employees.  Fact; job-seekers should be careful about what they post online.  Also Fact and not reported; employers put themselves at great risk by utilizing this practice when screening candidates.  As we have written countless times, Caveat Emptor – buyer beware.  The EEOC is taking a good look at this practice.  Aside from the many other hiring policies this could violate, the most obvious is Title VII of the EEOC.  A picture says a thousand words, a picture may also reveal a protected class and get you sued!

story.facebook.id.courtesyYoung job-seekers hiding their Facebook pages

(CNN) — Justin Gawel says there’s nothing too incriminating on his Facebook page.

“There are a lot of pictures of drinking [but] nothing naked or anything — at least I don’t think so,” he said jokingly.

Even so, the Michigan State University junior recently changed his Facebook display name to “Dustin Jawel” to keep his personal life from potential employers while applying for summer internships.

Although Gawel ditched his rhyming alias after two weeks when he realized Facebook users also can be searched by e-mail address, school and network, he is not alone in his efforts to scrub his online résumé. Many students and recent graduates say they are changing their names on Facebook or tightening privacy settings to hide photos and wall posts from potential employers.

And with good reason.

A recent survey commissioned by Microsoft found that 70 percent of recruiters and hiring managers in the United States have rejected an applicant based on information they found online.

What kind of information? “Inappropriate” comments by the candidate; “unsuitable” photos and videos; criticisms of previous employers, co-workers, or clients; and even inappropriate comments by friends and relatives, according to the survey report, titled “Online Reputation in a Connected World.”

Such prying into his online life makes Gawel uncomfortable.

“I understand that when [employers look] at someone’s Facebook page, they’re just trying to paint a bigger picture of the people they’re hiring — so they’re not just a name on a résumé,” he said. “But that doesn’t demonstrate whether they can do the job. It shouldn’t matter what someone does when they’re not in the office.”

Gawel said he’s not sure that employers would object to the information on his Facebook page. For him, it’s more about personal privacy.

“Too many people take pictures of you. I didn’t want to go through and ‘untag’ all of them,” he said. “There’s nothing illegal or too ridiculous in the photos … but people don’t take pictures of people studying or doing school work. They take pictures of people at parties and doing silly things.”

For better or worse, online screenings may be a permanent part of the 21st-century hiring process. The Microsoft survey found that 79 percent of U.S. hiring managers have used the Internet to better assess applicants.

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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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