Ink Paper Words' Profile

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Pacific Northwest, United States
In elementary school, I desperately wanted my mother to order books for me from those flyers Scholastic hands out to kids. She refused, citing the "perfectly good library down the street." I exacted revenge by becoming a card-carrying ALA accredited reference librarian. Ha! Take that!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Facebook Reconsidered

I've been hearing a lot lately about Facebook and its possible use by employers as a way to find information on a candidate that would be a deal breaker in hiring that person. On one hand, it's a given that as part of the screening process employers would dig up whatever they could as long as the search is cost effective. By the same token, candidates should do likewise to the employer. Come on, it's not a good idea, no matter how desperate the economy seems, to take a job with an organization that is clearly a bad fit. Personally I'd want to know everything I could before I accepted an offer.

Some make the counter argument that a person has control over their profile and the information posted in it and employers could only see what was there if they had specific approval to do so. However a recent news article about a teenage girl in the UK lost her job for posting a status update saying that her job was boring leads me to think that Facebook may very well make otherwise private information available to employers for a fee. Considering that until very recently they also claimed copyright to posted content, it doesn't seem all that farfetched.

However, were I the employer, I would be wary of information gleaned through such sources. There is no control over such sites that ensures the accuracy of the information contained therein. At least with a job application there are enough permissions and authorizations granted that if he lies on the application that is sufficient grounds even years in the future to warrant termination. I have accounts on social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, but not under my actual name, and the email address associated with them has nothing to do with the email address I use for professional purposes. Add to that the fact that there are several other people with my actual name on Facebook and Google -- but they aren't me. Sure you can pull up a name, but if it isn't the person you're considering, what good is the information? It just means that much loss of productivity by the HR department.

Another angle to consider is a candidate's right to have a social life examined. While it's certainly possible to post pictures of legal activities such as gun ownership and consumption of alcohol, these are still things that might cause an employer to look askance at you as an employee. And really, isn't the competition stiff enough already? Why give an employer the ammo to shoot you with?

I guess it boils down to a matter of discretion and awareness of online security. I would recommend that people use online email addresses and aliases that do not reflect their name or geographic location. Have a separate email address that is used exclusively for job searches. Have a social life but be smart about what you post. Realize that information can be retrieved even after you think you've deleted it. Be aware that even though we feel anonymous and omnipotent behind our monitors, the fact of the matter is that everything can be retrieved. Do what you can to make sure it doesn't come back to haunt you.

And don't, for God's sake, log in and post at work. Assume that your employer can see anything on your screen. is there really stuff so compelling on FB that it can't wait until you get home?

I still plan to use Facebook because it's been rather fun to connect with old friends, classmates and coworkers and to find people with similar interests. But even with my precautions, I plan to use a high degree of discretion.

Facebook gives employers clues to intelligence, personality
Why employers should reconsider Facebook fishing
How employers look at MySpace and Facebook pages
Employers leverage cloud computing to invade your Facebook privacy
Can Your Myspace Or Facebook Page Cost You A Job?

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