Friday, March 23, 2012

Epic fail: Employers continue asking applicants for Facebook account

The Associated Press put out an article this week about the ongoing trend of employers doing something stupid: asking applicants for their Facebook passwords.

Why stupid? Let me count the ways:

1) It makes the applicants feel like they've applied to a totalitarian regime. And they'll tell others, which goes to your reputation. And what do we know about employer reputation? It drives who applies for your jobs.

2) Employers are likely to see things they wish they hadn't. I don't just mean people passed out drunk at a party, I mean things like religious affiliation.

3) If you're trying to access their profile on your own, many are marked private and you won't see anything.

4) If you ask them to log into their account during the interview, it's like asking to see their personal diary.

5) The content on people's FB page is largely outside their control (e.g., comments, photos they're tagged in).

Oh, and let's not forget:

6) The content of someone's profile--aside from things like education and work history which you should have already--is likely to be totally unrelated to job performance, regardless of its potential usefulness, because frankly most employers aren't graduate students in psychology who have received training on interpreting Big 5 characteristics.

The only caveat I can think of is when this request is made as part of a full background check, in which case pretty much your life is an open book.

Facebook, notoriously unpredictable regarding its privacy policies, subsequently warned employers not to do this...but I don't anticipate that this will stop. Why? Because employers are obsessed (rightfully so) with getting as much--and as varied--information as they possibly can.

This just isn't the right way to do it.


Joe Doane said...

I can't begin to tell you how evil this is from my perspective. I've always seen Facebook as a private thing and none of my employer's business.

Do you happen to know how often this happens? Is it more prominent in certain industries or at certain levels of responsibility?

BryanB said...

Data I'm aware of is between 50 and 75 percent of employers but details are sketchy. HR is likely unaware of exact figures because of course any hiring supervisor can do their own research, and may not pony up that they are. Good question, tho.

BryanB said...

I should clarify, that's the percentage of employers using social networking profiles to screen applicants, not affirmatively asking for FB passwords. I assume the latter is much more rare. At least I hope so.

Recruitment Consultants in Mumbai said...

I do agree with the points

absolutelytrue said...

I saw this on the news and hope they pass laws forbidding employers or potential employers from even asking for logins. I know for sure I would not log in for them or give up my passwords.

On a related note, I saw this graphic on Facebook and thought it was a pretty good study of how NOT to be a manager.  Thought you'd like it.