Social Media and Job Recruitment: When Do Employers Go Too Far?

I heard a news story on the radio about a job applicant who had taken leave of his job, then attempted to get re-hired for it.  He figured it would be a breeze, but when he was filling out his application, his employer asked him for his Facebook log-in information.

Apparently, this kind of demand is becoming more and more common.  Though the man in the story was a prison worker, and subject to higher security demands, he wondered if it was appropriate, especially given that access to his page would also allow access to his private emails, photos, etc.  Is this going too far?

I read an article by Jennifer King, who I hope to soon interview and discuss this issue further.

She writes:

With social media, it’s possible to learn more about a job seeker than what’s on their resume, giving recruiters and hiring managers more insight into the behaviors and personal lives of their candidates.

According to Eric Meyer, partner in the labor and employment group at Dilworth Paxson LLP, “businesses and recruiters want to know as much as they can about a person who they may give a job offer. But the real purpose behind screening is to make sure the person you’re hiring doesn’t have any red flags that would make them a bad fit or a potential liability for the business.”

Sure, that makes sense, but at what point is it too much?  When does it become invasive?  If asking for your Facebook login is appropriate, will it also be appropriate to hand over your private email log-ins as well??

I also wonder about its accuracy:

For recruiters and hiring managers who choose to look up candidates online, it’s likely that what they find will also shape their first impression of that person.

“Perception is reality in the business world,” says Amy Henderson, account executive with Technisource, part of Randstad Technologies . “The way people perceive you online, through social media–that’s what they use to make first impressions. And those first impressions are lasting impressions.”

Maybe the biggest blessing one can have in the Google-your-prospective-employee Age is to have a name so common that you’re virtually unsearchable.  Heck, even my name comes up with results of people who share my name, yet work in completely different careers.  I’m sure we’ve all got Facebook profiles, and have commented on blogs, reviews, and posts over the years, some of which were probably regrettable utterances.

It’s like the Calvin & Hobbes strip in which he duplicates himself, only to see his duplicates run amok instead of doing Calvin”s homework & housework, as he intended, griping:  “The worst part is that I don’t even have the fun of doing the stuff I’m blamed for!”

Read the full article by Jennifer King, HR Analyst for Software Advice, on her HR blog

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