Social Enterprise

Job hunter: Rethink that social networking site

A survey by CareerBuilder shows that 22 percent of hiring managers screen potential staff via social networking profiles.

A survey by CareerBuilder shows that 22 percent of hiring managers screen potential staff via social networking profiles.

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I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record in regard to social networking and the job search, but I just unearthed some more stats about hiring managers and their use of social networking sites to screen candidates that made me want to revisit the topic. This appeared in a piece from globeandmail.com:

A survey by online job site CareerBuilder.com of 3,169 hiring managers found 22 per cent of them screened potential staff via social networking profiles, up from 11 per cent in 2006.

An additional 9 per cent said they don't currently use social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace to screen potential employees but they do plan to start.

The survey found that 34 per cent of the managers who do screen candidates on the Internet found content that made them drop the candidate from any short list.

The top area for concern among the hiring managers with 41 per cent citing this as a downfall were candidates posting information about drinking or using drugs.

The second area with 40 per cent of concern were candidates posting provocative or inappropriate photographs or information.

This should alarm people. Do you know how long it took to enact laws that prohibited prospective employers from asking a candidate questions that might lead to discrimination? And yet here we are, broadcasting even more details about our lives for anyone with an Internet connection to check out. Even if you don't post pictures of yourself doing tequila shots at your town's annual pit bull fighting competition, you still run the risk of offending someone or putting someone off by what you post for your friends to see.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

16 comments
The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Just protect it from potential random viewers and only accept known invitations for access from people you know or have arranged access with. Anything not managed in this way becomes public by default as you put it there to be seen. Was that not the whole point? Blog Writer: Beware About Not Thinking About Subject Fully Before Posting Simple.

oschmid14
oschmid14

I was under the impression that most so-called public information on this site is only available to other people you are actually "connected to". So I would say just do not connect wildly to anybody that requests to. I am on Facebook and Linkedin and I made it a habit to only connect to family and people I know extremely well. Whereby linkedin is my professional site and I don't have anything on there I would not answer if asked in an interview.

glgruver
glgruver

All this talk about vetting candidates on the internet lead me to ask whether the absence of any facebook, my space or whatever profiles may lead to a hiring manager rejecting an applicant based on the lack of any social networking presence. Just for kicks, I googled my name and came up with a number of people who share my name, but nothing about me. Hmmmm do I even exist?

squirrelonfire
squirrelonfire

How can a company decide what metric to grade on when surfing on a potential candidate's social website. I understand that 34% of those employers drop their candidate but why? I'm sure it's not because they simply have social websites. Yes doing drug is ,according to the law, illegal and If i were a manager, I would not hire anyone who verbally and graphically support doing drug on their social website. Now when it comes to drinking, which it is legal, how will the employer determine my work eligibility now? Wait I know, they will check on my sexuality, and if that fails, they will check on my flickr account. I hope they won't be intimidated by my 10 yrs old Mercedes E320 (yes some will). Let's see, I also have facebook, twitter, afterdawn.com, hold on here, do HR managers even know know all these websites?

JamesRL
JamesRL

...if my company blocks me from accessing MySpace or Facebook, I can't screen candidates pages on them, unless I do it from home with VPN off. I have googled candidates who bragged about their websites that they have built and seen their creations. Thats a sobering thing. I've googled another candidate who was involved in various charities and so on - part of his resume was about his communications/writing, so it was appropriate. I certainly wouldn't at this point in time not hire someone if I couldn't find anything about them, let alone if they didn't have an accessable Facebook profile. I've never used the internet content alone as a hiring point. That would be silly, like treating a reference check as a charecter endorsement. Its background, no more no less. This may change in the future. If I was hiring for example an open source contributor, and they bragged about their reputation, I would take a look on the net for sure and see what people think of the apps they wrote. James

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...would be the people you have listed as friends and their profiles. In the 'birds of a feather' vein, even if your profile was relatively vanilla, I'm certain that a rowdy crew of comrades would likely result in a failed applicant screening process. All the more reason not to have such a profile online (or at the very least, have it set to non-searchable/private; if that is even possible). Conversely, I wonder how long it is until we see a news story about how someone used a falsified profile (doctored photos with the Dalai Lama, stories of running a soup kitchen in Calcutta, etc) to sneak past HR and get a position that lead to a major SNAFU.

ME
ME

I do consider that companies have a right to screen all candidates to the best of their abilities. After all, they are making a huge investment in every single one of them future prospects...

doug
doug

For many years usenet was pretty small, and everyone used their real name. Fast forward a few years and usenet archives are posted on the internet. This was very embarresing for many of the now older and more respectable usenet guys People are just going to have to learn what many of us older guys learned from that. You have to use fictional on-line personas for thing like myspace and facebook.

LyleTaylor
LyleTaylor

I agree that they have the right to screen to the best of their ability, but this makes it all too easy for them to skirt around anti-discrimination laws by simply looking for the answers to questions they might like to ask directly but can't. You might say that people shouldn't include that kind of information about themselves on those sites in the first place (and for many things I would agree with that - especially things like binge drinking, drug use, etc.), but they are social networking sites and meant to be personal - that is, about you.

JamesRL
JamesRL

What is the expectation of privacy when you put personal details about yourself on a paper bulletin board? Why is the internet different? James

wayoutinva
wayoutinva

What somebody does on their own time generally should not be of a business concern, but by the same token, dont post online what you wouldnt want your mother to read in a public venue...quit using the social networking sites as a kind of online diary...as long as people are willing to do that and keep it public, then companies are going to use that information in their hiring decisions...and as was stated earlier since it is public information the compaines are not breaking the law..since they didnt ask you, you freely provided the information they were looking for...the info has to be there for somebody to use it, so somebody has to post it..dont want it used...DONT POST IT..can it get any simpler than that?

Katy Kat
Katy Kat

I need to say however, that what a person does on their own free time is no concern of their employers. And - in my opinion - has no bearing on what type of employee they will be.

daytech
daytech

The law doesn't make it illegal for a potential employer to "know" the personal information. It makes it illegal for them to "ask" for it. It is no different than a potential employer in a small town being aware of the unsavory reputation of an individual and choosing not to interview that individual. No laws were broken. The employer simply used known information to make a smart business decision.

LyleTaylor
LyleTaylor

It's not a question of privacy. When I said that these sites were personal, I didn't mean to imply that they were or should be considered private in any way. The fact that the information is publicly available and posted on the internet doesn't make it OK to seek out and use that information in an inappropriate manner. Employers can't discriminate on sex, race, religion, etc., yet many of these things are immediately apparent to an employer upon sight. That information is no less private than information posted to a social networking site. What's makes it OK to use this information when the other can't be?

cliff
cliff

I think the point is that the laws ARE being skirted, and it's being made all too easy. What expectation of privacy can someone honestly expect, when they post personal, and often times unsavory, information about themselves on the internet? It isn't my intention to sound mean-spirited, but at what point does someone's personal protection become THEIR responsibility too? It's a new age, with new freedoms and new pitfalls. We need to understand the tools we use. I don't know about everyone else, but pleading ignorance never made me feel better about suffering for something I did or did not do.

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