My email has brought me a disturbing trend this past year or two. Some employers are asking prospective employees for their passwords to social media sites in which they might participate such as Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook.
I'm not talking about the public, professional profile the potential employee may have carefully developed on sites such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional networking site where potential employees want you to look and read about their accomplishments and connections.
I'm talking about the social media sites where some prospective employees lock their tweets and set up privacy filters on their Facebook pages because they want only friends and family to share. Sure, venture there for their public postings, but asking for passwords to private spaces is over the edge.
I don't think an employer should ever venture there unless invited by the employee or prospective employee. Their private lives are really not your concern - unless they choose to share them. And, even then, access them sparingly. Do you really want workplace performance affected by the contents of his or her Facebook wall?
Careerbuilder Employer Use of Social Media Study
But, many of you disagree with me. A study by Careerbuilder.com concludes that 45% of employers are researching candidates at social media sites compared to 22% during the same time period last year. The study, conducted by Harris International, of 2667 hiring managers, and completed in June, 2009, indicated that another 11% plan to begin screening on social media sites this year.
According to Careerbuilder, of the managers surveyed, "29 percent use Facebook, 26 percent use LinkedIn and 21 percent use MySpace. One-in-ten (11 percent) search blogs while 7 percent follow candidates on Twitter."
35% of managers said that information found on social networking sites eliminated a candidate from contention. Key reasons included inappropriate photographs (53%), drinking or drug use (44%), bad mouthing former employers, coworkers, and customers (35%), exhibiting poor communication skills (29%), discriminatory remarks (26%), lied about their qualifications for the position (24%), and discussed confidential employer information (20%).
On the other hand, employers also found evidence that the candidate would be a good hire: candidate demonstrated a personality that would be a good company fit (50%), consistent professional qualifications (39%), candidate showed creativity (38%) and good communication skills (35%), prospective employee was well-rounded (33%), good references were posted about the candidate (19%) and the candidate received awards and recognition (15%).
Employers need to know that prospective employees are fighting back against this trend. They are using privacy filters on sites like Facebook to disenable public inspection. They are locking out the ability of unwanted people to follow their Twitter comments, and they are going so far as to suspend their social media accounts during a job search. (I understand they don't lose all the data but I have never personally tried it.)
If you search for your candidates on Google or another search engine, make sure you have the right person. Additionally, I recommend that you use such a search to confirm your interest in a candidate and for background checking. Don't go snooping to eliminate a candidate who may have won the job search competition on every other level.
What do you do to find out more about your candidates on social networking sites, professional networking sites, and in Internet search. Please cast your vote in my new poll.
Add your thoughts about researching - snooping - on potential employees on social media in my new readers respond page. I'd love to hear what you think.
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