As social networking sites continue to grow on a daily basis, so do the potential risks that come alongside using them. The continuous growth of sites such as Facebook is especially now being seen in increasingly high usage by hiring managers and human resource professionals. These hiring managers now use sites like Facebook in attempts to find out more specific information about the job ctoria R. Brown, 2011). Although some people may believe that Facebook facilitates the hiring process, I believe that Facebook can have a very negative effect on many different aspects of employment. I do not think that by looking at an applicant’s Facebook profile, hiring managers can appropriately judge if an applicant is an eligible candidate for the job or not. Through a Facebook profile, I think that not only a job applicant is at risk, but also a manager could be at risk of making a preferential consideration of the applicant, also relating to the validity of how one’s Facebook profile relates to the job.
While looking through an applicant’s Facebook profile may seem like an easy way to obtain information about the characteristics or attributes of a person, there can be many biases that come along with this. Some applicants won’t use social networking sites at all while some may use them to document their whole lives. In the 2009 survey done by CareerBuilders.com 35% employers said that they did not hire an applicant due to what they found on the applicant’s social networking sites. Some of these reasons were: posting provocative or inappropriate pictures, showing information relating with alcohol of illegal drug use, poor communication skills, or revealing information that falsifies qualifications listed in a resume (E. Daly Vaughn, 2011). I feel like the job candidate however is in a lose-lose situation. Due to community norms and social desirability, applicants’ shared information might be distorted. These community norms toward self-promotion and the desire to fit in often place pressures on users to project a certain “popular image”. From first- hand experience, I have noticed that this “popular image” often does include drinking and bragging, which will result in a potential employer thinking that the user could lack responsibility. Applicants who choose to use social networking sites are able to customize the degree to which information is private or not, keeping in consideration though, that individuals may not always be aware or be in control of the information portrayed about them on Facebook.
In some instances an individual will have too much on Facebook that will automatically generate a negative judgment by an employer (E. Daly Vaughn, 2011). On the other hand there are cases where an individual has too little, also resulting in a negative opinion of the hiring manager. An example of this was a car sales company in their hiring process. One applicant for the sales associate position had 250+ friends on Facebook, and another only had 16. Automatically without having even met them yet, the employers create a bias judgment that the person with only 16 friends is less outgoing and sociable, giving the employers the idea that that person is not fit for the role of a sales associate (William P. Smith, 2010). The only way that Facebook can aid in the application process in my opinion, is if the applicant’s Facebook profile provides supporting evidence to the things listed on a resume. Along with Facebook having negative effects on a job candidate, I believe that it can also have negative effects on hiring managers and employers. The lack of a bias based solely on the applicants’ privacy settings or even just general use of social networking sites. A very small amount of companies have actually discussed and addressed what the appropriate measures are for using social networking sites like Facebook as a way of evaluating job applicants during the hiring process (Deborah L. Kidder, 2010) I believe that employers often weigh an applicants’ Facebook content too heavily when considering them for further interviewing. This leads to my questioning of the validity of how much someone’s Facebook profile is associated with the job that they are applying for. I don’t think that a lot of the information shown on someone’s Facebook profile is generally related in any form to their ability or talents needed for most jobs. If an employer looks or finds something on an employee’s social networking site and then proceeds to make a negative action towards that employee, that employee might be able to infer that their employer made such an action based on the content seen through the social networking site that is supposed to be private(Karen Kranson, 2011).
As Victoria R. Brown states, “the line between public and private life becomes more blurred, employers are beginning to examine available information on the internet from social networking sites that may not be accessible from reviewing a resume or conducting an interview” (Victoria R. Brown, 2011). Now that social media is so prominent throughout so many peoples’ daily lives, I feel like there is an underlying lack of privacy. Since Facebook creates a sense of anonymity, many of its users are unaware of the lack of privacy that truly comes with owning a Facebook account. I have seen first-hand where an employee posts a negative status about her boss, not keeping in mind how easy it is for an employer to look at her profile, and then has to face the consequences of being terminated from her job due to the negative status. Another real world example I have seen is where an employer takes advantage of Facebook’s easy communication with employees and continuously attempts to create relationships over social networking sites, resulting in him also being terminated for violating his employee’s privacy.