Today and tonight, millions of people across the world will be getting ready for a job interview tomorrow. You yourself may be thinking of your next job, or thinking of your performance at your existing place of work. At the same time, you may probably be wondering as to how a future interviewer, employer, or an existing employer may view your job integrity based on how you act outside of work. In today’s world, where the online activities seems to be slowly getting more attention than life itself in several circles, many people say that it is important for you to realize how your online activities can hurt your existing or future job opportunities. I want to ask you if you think employers and interviewers should pay any attention to your online social profiles which reside outside of your work.
Today I ask a very important question that applies directly to you: Should employers and interviewers look at your MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and other social online profiles in order to judge your work and related performance and integrity?
Poll for you and your future and existing job:
Does social network profiling result in discrimination and prejudice?
It is interesting to see that more and more companies are starting to think that your behavior outside of the workplace is an important factor to consider when figuring out whether or not you are useful to the company and your job. My question is: What does the non-work online life of anyone have to do with the work life? Employers should only care about something that affects the workplace or the job at hand by following the golden rule: mind your own business.
Can employers and interviewers use the social profiles of job applicants and employees as a way to base biased decisions against the stereotypically-stereotyped people, like homosexuals, females, minorities, politically minded, certain races, and more?
Employers should not care about the online social activities of employees outside of the workplace.
Employers have to learn how not to judge an employee because of a social online account not related to work. Employers also have to come up with better ways to analyze candidates than to use online posts of employees and candidates as one of the main deciding factors. Many times, if not most, using MySpace or social profiles as a way to “weed out” candidates is a cheaper and faster way for interviewers and others to not do the extra work of figuring out who is a good applicant for the job at hand.
According to a CareerBuilder survey in June of 2009, “Forty-five Percent of Employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. Jennifer Van Grove on Mashables says “Though this may seem as a big downer for those of us who are oversharers, the reality is that there’s still opportunity to use your social presence to land that job.”
Background online profiling can be the same as stalking
Snooping around to check an existing or prospect employee’s private or online life, which may have nothing to do with one’s work, is the same as stalking employees or prying into places which should not be used for judging the professional working ability of someone.
This may mean that the act of checking the social profiles may be considered bad in more than just the “unethical” banner, like considering it stalking. One example is an employer cyberstalking his restaurant employee in a private discussion group on MySpace, built solely to vent and share the personal frustrations at work, and then using her private posts as a basis for firing her.
Employers are also known to create fake accounts just to find out more information about private accounts of workers. BBC has a story of a woman recently fired because of being on Facebook through her iPhone while resting in bed, after she had taken a day off from work for being sick. She says that one of her mysterious Facebook friends online was probably one of her co-workers or boss, who mysteriously vanished from her Facebook friends list after she got fired. While there is a lot of focus on the general media advising the general public to either not post many things online or to protect such online postings further, there has been a slow increase in the amount of attention people are giving to the idea of suing employers for discriminating against and stalking the online profiles of potential and existing employees.
The same way following a person to bars, the public park, library, movie theaters and other places is a form of stalking and does not contribute in any significant manner, in many cases, to the value and integrity of an employee, should employers snoop around the online public profiles of job applicants and existing employees, when such profiles are not related in any manner to the employer or a job?
Censorship is the main reason many employers check employee’s social profiles
One of the reasons employers monitor their worker’s profiles is because of censorship: many employers do not want their employees to say anything bad about the company outside of the workplace, as BBC Video reports in the case of 16 year old Kimberley, who got fired by Ivell Marketting & Logistics for saying on facebook “ma job it poingLESS” to her friends. Kimberley’s co-workers had forwarded Kimberley’s Facebook status updates to their boss.
Also, companies seem to be taking extreme action even if someone voices a strong disapproval of the company actions. A very good example of this is Dan Leone and his facebook account. Dan Leone was fired from his job as a game-day employee for voicing his disapproval of the team on his Facebook account. No one sat down with Dan, and he was not offered a chance to express his side of the story and the situation. It should be known that the thousands of Eagles fans voiced the same exact opinion that Dan did. The only difference was that Dan was working for the very organization that he voiced an opinion against.
Another example, as reported by CNN, is of anonymous bloggers being fired by their companies and employers for having blogs and for posting opinions on them. Also, CNN itself has fired senior producer Chef Pazienza for having his own opinionated blog under his own name while working for CNN and not adhering to CNN’s journalism standards. It should be noted that Chef’s blog is personal, and was not in any manner related or competing with the “journalism” offered by CNN.
What logic is used to consider unrelated online activities as being 100% related to work performance?
My question to all the employers and other people suggesting that people should be careful in their online activities because of the impact of such online details over one’s job: Why? Why should one be scared to post stuff online? What about in countries, like in Europe, where smoking a joint or eating hash cookies, is legal? Would posting pictures of someone smoking hash in Europe get them into trouble in Florida?
What logic and reason, including any logical connection, exists between posting a picture of yourself smoking a joint, and with your actual job performance? Why should an outside bias against any action be allowed to affect our image of someone’s working professional life and qualities, when the two have not intersected so far? Should employers and interviewers allow their own personal judgment and any opinion of things like smoking a joint, affect and cloud their judgment over completely unrelated things like a job performance?
Overall, the very question of whether or not employers should look at such profiles, when they are unrelated to the work at hand, should be brought up in order to make sure that the unrelated activities of people do not affect their job prospects because of the employers putting unnecessary emphasis on such online profiles.
Random examples of online social profiling resulting in bias and prejudice
Different things that are used to form biased judgments about someone’s working abilities can include the following.
- A person cannot drink on a job but drinks every night at home and at parties and gets wasted. Is that a disqualifier for an existing job? Will religious or other interviewers who are opposed to drinking count this into their final interview decision, yet still say that the online profile of the applicant does not play a “significant” role in the hiring process?
- A person goes around smoking marijuana in Europe but has a perfect job and professional record around their city of work. Should they be disqualified by someone who is against illegal drugs in America?
- A person has had more than one abortion and posts publicly about it on her blog. Would a pro-life interviewer have any interest in checking our her blog when the job may be about something like computer hardware repairs?
- Would a “hard core republican” have his chances of employment at a “hard core democrat” management corporation ruined because of his pro-republication status messages on twitter?
Such points and interests can give interviewers prejudice, since such points are usually pursued by employers and interviewers for no reason other than to find out anything bad that the employer or the interviewer may not agree personally outside of the workplace. Employers and interviewers usually say that they do not use online social profiles as an important element in deciding whether or not someone should be an employee. My question to employers and interviewers: If online social profiles do not affect your judgment in a hiring process, as you, the employer and the interviewer claim so many times, why do you check out the social profiles of people in order to find out qualities, like what a person does at 11pm, which has nothing to do with what a person may do between the stereotypical hours of 9am and 5pm?
Many employers are spending heavy resources on finding out what kind of MySpace and Facebook pictures job applicants and existing employees have on their MySpace and Facebook profiles, instead of interacting with those people directly to find out what kind of job qualities and skills they have.
Is checking an employee’s or potential job applicant’s online social accounts, if those accounts are not related to work, the same as stalking and cyber-stalking someone? Many entities think that spying on people is an acceptable behavior. An example of this on a massive government level is the case of the city of Bozeman in Montana asking all existing and prospect employees to hand over their usernames and passwords to their Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking accounts. A Millersville University teacher Stacy Snyder was denied a teaching credential because of her online MySpace picture, shown to the right, which shows her drinking beer with a pirate cap on.
A so-called conservative interviewer could disqualify a job applicant who drinks heavily every other night and posts the pictures on MySpace, while a very so-called liberal interviewer could then disqualify a job applicant who preaches about religion a lot through their blog. A Christian employer could deny a job to a Muslim job applicant who talks openly about the war in Iraq on Twitter, while a Muslim employer could deny a job to a Jewish job applicant who talks openly about Palestine and Israel on their Facebook. A gay interviewer could deny a job to someone who is against same-sex marriages through their Facebook groups, while a religious man-to-woman-only-marriages employer could be harsh on a gay job applicant who runs and promotes pro-same-sex-marriage groups on MySpace. A white interviewer could ignore a black job applicant who runs pro-affirmative-action groups on Xanga, while a black employer could deny a promotion to a white or a non-black person who runs anti-Obama groups on LiveJournal. In all these and other cases, a stereotypical person could easily use the non-work related online social profile activity trait of a worker as a way to affect the work-related progress of that worker in a completely unrelated real of someone’s life.
According to the article “Googling your Nanny” on Care.com, in which caretakers were asked if they were comfortable having their non-work related MySpace, Facebook and other online accounts researched by parents who wanted a caretaker, people like Erika W. said “I think it’s a great idea because then parents will know if their babysitter is honest and responsible! I’m a great babysitter, so please come check out my profile!” while people like Dawn said “MySpace and Facebook are about friends and child care is about work. Obviously at your job you’re going to be professional and attentive to the children…The things I do in my personal life have no reflection on the things in my professional life. ”
What Jason Falls thinks about online profiles, employers and employees
Here is a very interesting presentation Jason Falls about your online social accounts, and how they are visible to employers,.
- by Jason Falls
Employers should pay heed to employees directly, and not the online social stereotypes
Employers and interviewers should stop using social profiles and non-work related habits of people as one of the main ways to figure out whether or not an employee is fit for a job. Employers and interviewers should actually be fired for relying too much on online social profiles instead of their own offline abilities to figure out whether or not an employee will do good at work, and whether or not the actual work, educational and other skills of the employee would help the company and employer in question.
Val Calvert says “You wouldn’t air your dirty laundry in the backyard, so why would you air your dirty laundry on MySpace?” My question: how are those two things related? MySpace is a personal profile for many, and if someone wants to post something personal about themselves online, why should an outside employer, who is not part of the personal life and only part of the professional life, decide to use that information to form judgments about the working qualities of an employee or an applicant? Also, Jason Falls considers people who smoke joints in their pictures to not have a job soon. That is a very important thing to consider, because of the stereotypical trend in the business world where employers and interviewers assume that the online life of a person should greatly help in deducing whether or not a job applicant or employer is a good candidate for the future.
Kit Eaton at Fast Company talks about the unjust horrors of not censoring your Facebook page from your future and current employers. Of course, more and more companies have already been firing people because of social media, as mentioned before by Doug Caverly of WebProNews. Mark Glover of The Sacramento Bee says that employers must set up online social networking ground rules for employees to follow.
My question to everyone who wants employees to hide and change their life habits online solely because of upsetting an employer: If something is online and accessible, like the social profiles of job applicants, should employers simply take such information and use it as an element in their analysis of the prospect employee?
The online activities of employees, if not related to actual work, should be ignored by employers.
The act of expressing ourselves online is being used against us by entities which would prefer us to express things they want to express in order to promote their image and business in the personal lives of people, outside of the workplace. That is prejudice and unjust bias, similar to what many entities experience because of their background culture, race, color, religion, political views, gender, sex, and age. To put it simply: the idea of being able to express ourselves, using the online world, is being discriminated against and targeted heavily.
Do you think it is important to put emphasis on the social profile and online activities of a job applicant? Does the “Getting wasted Friday night & barfing all over the car” picture of a job applicant affect their performance at work? Should a company really require you and other employees to exhibit a typical “professional” attitude throughout your life, outside of the workplace? Are employers and interviewers putting too much emphasis on the public image of their employees than the job performance and potential of those employees? Is such a trend, of heavily factoring in the social profiles of job applicants into the interview process, a sign of the non-adapting nature of corporations and workers who want to hire drones that exhibit a workplace attitude 24 hours a day? Are interviewers and employers discriminating and being unethical when searching out and profiling your online social profiles?
Just because you are an employee of a company, it is not a stated fact, nor should it be a requirement, to never have feelings or judgments against the company you work for. Businesses should not ask for blind patriotism, nor should employers enforce a robotic environment where any emotion that the company, as a money making machine does not share, results in the termination of such emotion holders.
Have you ever been asked or told by an interview or an employer about anything related to your social profiles? Have you ever had your social profile researched and viewed by employers, interviewers or co-workers and then brought to your attention?
Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Now I must go and try to take a few pictures of some toys so that I can post them online to share with everyone in the professional and non-professional world.
Thank you for reading. I really appreciate it.Follow @besz