Craig in my HR class sent me this TIME article that draws attention to the practice of employers increasingly checking job-candidates’ Facebook pages before hiring them. It adds to the list of other such Articles reporting how candidates are asked to share the Facebook passwords or add the prospective employers as ‘friend’ or log in during the interview and show them the wall posts.
What is problematic about the practice?
As per the Equal Employment Opportunity law that prohibits discrimination against any race, religion, color, sex or national origin, at the time of hiring employers are not supposed to ask for or seek any information from the job candidates that is not directly job-related. Such information (for example, age, marital status, physical/mental disability, gender, etc) can possibly bias the employer against the candidate and lead to discrimination of members from those groups. Employers are therefore cautioned against obtaining information about the candidates that might not be directly job-related. Thus, from an EEO perspective, looking up job-candidates’ Facebook pages with or without their knowledge would be wrong because a person’s Facebook profile most likely carries lot of information about the candidate that the law specifically warns against collecting. [Here is a Forbes article that questions whether it should be illegal for employers to do so.]
What makes it okay to do so?
Economy. Given the state of economy where there are more qualified applicants than job openings, the competition amongst the applicants for the fewer jobs makes some applicants more willing than others to share their Facebook pages with the employers, thereby creating a pressure for others to follow suit or risk being rejected for the job.
What do employers say about it?
Employers are admitting (studies reported on CNN, NYTimes, Forbes) that they use the information gained from an applicant’s Facebook pages to make decisions about hiring that person, and in many cases have reported not hiring the applicant upon finding information that pointed to the applicant’s drug usage, drinking pics, bad mouthing of previous employers, colleagues, etc.
Take away for Job Applicants
If you are in the job market, and have a Facebook profile, better ensure that you don’t have any information – pictures or posts – on your Facebook wall that might present you in a bad light.