Posted by & filed under exam2012A, FaceBook, free speech, Human Resources.

Description: Why interview when you can Facebook stalk? Yesterday, I told you about a study suggesting that employers can judge candidates’ future work performance by spending five to ten minutes lurking on their Facebook pages.

Source: Forbes .com

Date: March 6, 2012

Some readers were outraged by this. “I truly wish employers would stop using Facebook as a professional tool,” commented one. “That was never its intention! … Does it give employers a potential view into people’s somewhat personal lives? Yes! But truly what does that prove?”

Like it or not, Facebook and other sites like it are becoming the digital proxies for our real world selves. Our profiles on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, et. al. reflect our likes, dislikes, personalities, and best photo angles, and are likely more useful to employers in seeing the kind of person you are to work with than a short interview. If you don’t want employers (and love interests) to come snooping on your page to get a sense of who you are, set your privacy settings high. Limit your content to “friends only.” If you are willing to let it hang out, here’s a sense of what employers will be asking themselves as they review your content.  Read Rest of Story

Questions for discussion:

  1. Should potential employers have the right view your Facebook page?  Why? Or Why Not?
  2. What potential risks do you expose yourself to by participating on facebook?

31 Responses to “What Employers Are Thinking When They Look At Your Facebook Page”

  1. BK

    Anything is fair game when it comes to hiring an employee (except protect grounds obviously). Checking to see how someone conducts their personal life does reflect on how they are going to conduct their professional life. It is a direct indicator of personality, desired behaviours, and even desires within the workplace. For that reason, I think potential employers have more than enough right to view a potential employee’s Facebook page. A picture of you in a bar getting drunk with your friends is no different than if they saw you in a bar drunk with your friends. We view them “creeping” on employers though as an invasion of privacy, although we publically put that information out there. The risk you expose yourself to is getting caught. The glory of showing off the things you have and do that you may or may not want your mother to know about are being made seen and known to everyone. A good example of being caught by Facebook is the Vancouver rioting after the pathetic loss to Boston last year in the Stanley Cup Finals. Rioters were being caught and apprehended simply because they posted pictures of themselves doing illegal things on Facebook. Common sense would say that if you want everyone to see your page, do not put things up that can get you in trouble.

  2. Jarrett Weinrauch

    I think it is perfectly fair for future, current, or past employers to view any information you have on the internet that is freely available. If they are not smart enough to set their privacy settings properly, then they may not be smart enough for the job. I feel like it is not an invasion of privacy at all. If all that information is published on the internet, and if open for anyone to read, how is it any worse for a future employer to see than a friend. If that person is embarrassed, or does not want anyone in a business setting to see their social media sites, then they should either get rid of them, or they should set their privacy to an acceptable level. I only participate in Facebook and I barely want to do that, but it has become a useful tool in meetings with other students. I however, have my privacy as high as possible, as well as have no picture. Therefore, if someone is to look up me, they will not find anything relevant. I think that if you are smart enough to participate in social media, then you should be smart enough to control who sees what.

  3. MJJ

    Employers would be remiss not to access any information available to them when they are searching and screening potential employees. Having been on the interview committees hiring teachers, I know first hand how little of the big picture of a person a resume tells. People can adjust their resumes to seem tailor made to each job they apply for. They can come well prepared to interviews, and provide a fantastic first impression. However, when references are contacted sometimes a different story emerges. Under the shiny, well presented exterior lurks can someone with poor interpersonal skills, drinking problems, or a poor work ethic. What a person is will to post online also provides insight into what kind of person they are.

    That being said scouring the internet for information on potential employees should be used in conjunction with face to face interviews. With the large pool of people looking for jobs and the increased sensitivity of information that employees are privy to, and the increased difficulties in firing people firms need to be diligent in their hiring practices.

    If potential employees have their Facebook privacy settings, for example, set high enough then potential employers are not able to see anything that might negatively influence their opinion of that person. The point of internet ‘snooping’ then becomes moot.

  4. Ellie

    Just some days ago, my classmate told me a story about his friend. One girl is a student in the University and her major is education. In this University, an education students who want to be a teacher in the further should have double degree, one is education and the other one is what he wants to teach in the further (like English, math); However, the girl just can get one degree of English, the University refused to give her education degree because there were many photos about she was drinking alcohol in the club on her Facebook. The University thinks she doesn’t have qualification to be a good teacher. In nowadays, the social networking is popular in the people’s daily lives, especial for the young people. They like to share their photos, charts on the personal page. For the young, sometimes they did some stupid things and post the photo on the Facebook. When they are finding jobs, the employers find these photos through their Facebook, and cause the misunderstandings. I think the employers should not judge people just according to some stupid pictures, and also the people should use the privacy settings to protect their personal pages if they don’t want to let everyone see their Facebook.

  5. Paige Magnussen

    Facebook these days seems to be a double edges sword. People love it for connecting with their friends, long lost people they went to high school with, and sharing pictures with people in their lives. However more recently Facebook has been involved in the Human Resource Department of most business. I don’t like the idea of a potential employer looking at my Facebook, knowing more about me than they would be able to from a simple interview. Although i don’t like the idea of it, this is a reality. From a business perspective companies want the best of the best, and there are certainly many people who are willing to accept jobs out there. They don’t want someone who is representing their company wasted, on the ground, maybe showing to much skin or flipping the bird. Yes this is funny, but its not the picture perfect image you want of someone who is going to work at your company and help you reach your goals. Let them make a fool of themselves behind close doors. My dad works in the commercial real estate industry in Calgary and he told me that before he hires anyone he goes on to Google and googles their name, and then moves to facebook. They want someone who is going to best represent their company. My best suggestion – PRIVACY SETTINGS, learn how to use them, it can be an asset in your personal and professional life.

  6. Ashley O'Donnell

    This is a difficult question to support or disagree with. I don’t think employers should use social media sites solely for the purpose of judging someone because facebook profiles are not always an accurate statement of someone. It can become unethical if for instance an employer chooses not to hire someone because for example, they find out the candidate is gay and they’re against that. Then that becomes unethical.
    However, if you choose to disregard all privacy settings and let the world see your profile, then an employer has every right to go through your facebook profile. Ultimately, it really is up to the potential candidate to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from potential loss of employment because of your facebook profile.
    If there are plenty of pictures up of you partying and drinking and acting irresponsibly, take the necessary actions and set privacy settings at its max so employers don’t have a reason not to hire you. If you are one of those people who like to have their profile for the entire world to see, take the time to go through your profile and delete any pictures or statuses or whatever that may be deemed inappropriate in the eyes of a potential employer.

  7. Lesley

    I think employers have every right to view Facebook pages of their potential employees, but i don’t think everyone should be judged on their facebook profile. People do need to think about what they are writing and what pictures they put on there, along with making sure their privacy settings are properly set. Its kind of strange that employers think that University students wouldn’t have partying pictures on thier Facebook…its just something to unwind and de-stress from school.
    I think people are exposing themselves to the posibility of not getting a jobs over certain types of pictures. But, who really wants to work for some stiff that can’t handle a picture of someone enjoying themselves with the people they love. As long people posting pics keep in mind that they are public, and that others may see these pics, there should be no issues.

  8. Nichelle

    If an individual is using any social networking site, such as Facebook, and hasn’t taken the time to set their privacy settings accordingly, then anyone has the right to view their information. They placed it up on the WORLD WIDE WEB – not within a secret personal diary. That being said, of course employers should have the right to view a potential employees facebook page, but that shouldn’t mean they “judge a book by its cover.” Facebook should not be the newest way of putting potential employees through an interview process. As a facebook user myself, I know I am putting my information out there for others to possibly see, but I also know how to keep things relatively private when it comes to matters that concern no one else. There are a variety of privacy settings you can utilize and there are reasons for them – such as people “creeping” your page. But let’s not forget that with all the privacy settings facebook has to offer, they still collect your information based on your “likes” and “statuses” – and members of authority such as the RCMP always have access to your information whether you like it or not.

  9. P

    I think employers who look at their potential employees Facebook pages are very smart. Social Networking pages can very appropriately define who a person is, describing what they like, dislike, or even their lifestyle choices. This may be a disadvantage to some people, but could be an advantage for others. The process of hiring and training new employees can be substantial and very risky if organizations don’t hire the right person. All employers really have to judge a person on is their resume, the interview and references. This can barely describe a person, and may disadvantage someone if they get nervous or had a bad day before the interview.

    Once photos are uploaded on to Facebook, they are “property” of the site and are kept even if they are deleted from the page. I think people should be very careful about what they put on the Internet and make use of privacy settings. If it is really that big of deal that employers can see the site or pictures then increasing viewing security would be a good idea. Or oppositely, if a person knows they are suited for a job, tailoring the site to show who they really are may increase the possibilities of getting a job and be a good idea as well.

  10. Sagrika

    We cannot stop people from creeping or stalking us on Facebook and the only smart way to prevent that is through high privacy settings.If we are getting worried because of the possibility of potential employers creeping our page, then we should set our Facebook in a way that won’t let this happen. As much as we would like to stop the potential employers from checking out our Facebook, this cannot be stopped. There are no laws preventing this scenario neither can we go stop them. Because Facebook is an open tool where we put our information voluntarily, we should also keep in mind that our information could be visible to anyone on the internet. Taking smart steps towards our online profiles such as high privacy settings and the careful use of our private information would help prevent Facebook affect our professional life.

  11. PJ

    I believe it is an employers right to be able to check the Facebook pages of potential employes. You are hiring these people to represent your company and it is a companies job to do the proper research about an individual before hiring them. If people are really uncomfortable with companies checking there Facebook page there are steps that they can take such as setting high privacy settings or using abbreviated names so so employers will not be able to find them. Although some people may view employers checking Facebook as an invasion of privacy, however if you are willing to create a profile on a public site you have to expect that companies will use this as a resource. Also, if you have something so bad on your Facebook that it could cost you a job, you probably wouldn’t last very long at your job to begin with.

  12. Ford

    Facebook is on the internet and it’s your choice if you want the world to see how drunk you got on St Patrick ’s Day or just the close friends that you know and trust. It’s out there and anyone can look at it. From my stand point I think that it is a good idea that potential employers look at people’s Facebook. Because if your dumb enough to leave your privacy settings low enough that a boss that you don’t even know or even met yet can see all your photos and read all your posts than I don’t think an employer would be the least of my worries I think it would be the perverts and stalkers out there that are creeping your every post. Potential employers have the right to look at your Facebook page because you are putting it out there for other people to look at but on the other hand it might not be the most ethical or best way to judge a potential employee.

  13. Rachael Brown

    Potential employers have ever right to legally view your Facebook page. If you are incapable of setting the privacy settings on Facebook, and worry about employers seeing your information, you shouldn’t use it! If employers are able to do research on employees using Facebook, they would be silly not too. For example, I am in charge of renting shared accommodation bedrooms in my house to other students. When someone gives me their name, I check their Facebook to see what information I have access to. Generally, if there are many pictures of them drinking with friends I question their roommate quality. I never judge solely based on Facebook, but use a combination of face-to-face and Facebook to judge.

    One of my main concerns with my Facebook profile stem from whether my private information (that is viewable only by friends) is being sold to potential employers. I’ve heard rumors about Facebook selling private information to companies, but I am not sure how true these rumors are. If these rumors are true I would be very worried. If a company uses Facebook information to judge future employees this could create issues surrounding discrimination and prejudice. People may be pre-judged based on appearance, written personality, likes/dislikes, stated sexual orientation etc. I guess we’ll see what the future has in store for Facebook users like myself.

  14. Brittney Rainforth

    Potential employers do have the right to check your Facebook page. Your Facebook page is on the internet, which is available to everyone. Therefore, anyone has the right to creep you. However, because it is your Facebook page, you have the right to limit who sees your profile page. For myself, Facebook is a social site where I can keep in touch with my friends and family. Therefore, I restrict my profile settings to allow only those who I want to see my page. I do not want future employers looking at my page, so I restrict them from seeing my page. However, I also do not put things up on Facebook that I do not want other people to see. So although employers have the right to creep you on Facebook, you also have the right to restrict them from creeping you. If you do not limit the people who can see your Facebook page, you are opening yourself up to many risks. You could lose a potential job because your future employer looked at your page and found you doing something they do not appreciate. You could also lose your current job because your boss could see you partying instead of being at home sick. Basically, Facebook should be for your personal life, not your professional life.

  15. Kelsey Roberts

    The concept of using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and all the other social media sites out there today as changed a lot, even in just the past year. For many individuals of our generation it has moved from a site used for simple fun, to a networking opportunity. So why shouldn’t companies look to your sites to see how you choose to portray your self to the public. I believe that how you act on a social media site, as a direct reflection of how you want others to perceive you. Sure everyone goes out on weekends, has a few drinks and good time, but that doesn’t mean that the next day everyone wants or needs to see a hundred photos plastered all over their needs feed. Especially the tasteless ones. Employers are smart to look to Facebook pages before interviewing potential employees to get a sense of who they are, how much they respect them selves and what they really value . I think it is clear within 5 seconds of a glance at someones Facebook page the type of person they are. And that is not at all an invasion of privacy, as everyone knows he internet is a public of a form of communication as it can get. If you have something to hide, don’t post it on a public website, its as simple as that.

  16. Lacey Dodds

    I think potential employers have the right to view their applicant’s facebook page, however, I don’t think this is the best measure of the applicant’s fit or future success in the organization. Facebook is a public website that anyone can view. Like the article says, if an applicant is worried about what they have on facebook affecting his or her ability to land the position, he or she should either not be posting things for everyone to see, or should be turning up his or her privacy settings so that potential employer are unable to gather undesirable information.
    The potential risks that you expose yourself to by using facebook would be a loss of privacy and a risk for snap judgements. If you do not have high privacy settings, whoever is viewing your profile can form a preconceived opinion on you before the interview process. This opinion could be carried into the interview, or even worse, cause you to not even land an interview. While I agree that facebook is more for personal and leisure, and that employers should ultimately be using Linkedin, I think everyone should be conscious of what they put on the internet. Even if you delete something, it is never truly deleted so it is important to always take precaution.

  17. Trevor

    I completely support companies using all available resources when reviewing potential applicants for hire. Those who upload potentially self-damaging photos or comments on a social network, and do not edit their privacy settings have no one to blame but themselves. Social Networks sole purpose is to share content (pictures, comments, etc) with others, and they have systems in place (privacy controls) to dictate who this content is shared with. As mentioned in the article, why would a company not access freely-available information on a potential hire? The costs associated with bringing a new employee on board dictate that all research should be done before a decision is made – social habits can affect your work, so it is good for a company to know anything that may influence their decision.

  18. Linli He

    I think employers have enough rights to view Facebook of their potential employees. Facebook is a social networking site, where individuals can show and place their personal information in public. This means your personal information becomes potentially available to anyone, including employers. Facebook page of a potential employee could be seen as a external electronic resource for Human Resource Department in some organizations. Employers can get ideas of employee’s personal interests, personalities, and work experiences. A potential employer have rights and responsible to know their employee variously. In addition, Facebook can be also used for checking employee’s background, where “disqualifying information” may be available. Employer as lease should know what kind of employee is working for company. Hiring an unqualified employee may be risky and costly for the organization. Those potential employers may have to judge a employee through different ways, resume, application form, interview and references. However, they can not fair or deny a person because of a photo or information which is posted on Facebook, it is not fair. Facebook is a way to collect information of employee; it is not a reason to reject a potential employee.

  19. Dennis Zhong

    1.Should potential employers have the right view your Facebook page? Why? Or Why Not?

    Everyone have the right to view your Facebook page, because it is public

    2.What potential risks do you expose yourself to by participating on facebook?

    Major risk is the privacy issue.Other people will know what r u doing in daily life. When people use facebook they should be careful about what contents to post. remember that facebook is a public social networking

  20. Michael Holland

    Yes potential employers should have access to the Facebook pages of their employees. Although Facebook pages are “personal” in the sense that you can customize them and they are “yours” they are still very much public, and a reflection of your public image. I know of people who present a very tidy and clean image professionally, however, when you see them off work you may wonder if they even shower, let alone have a job. One of the major focuses of business today is public image and public relations, and as a member of an organization or company you are part of that public image. Your actions affect your employers’ public image.

    As with most social media, Facebook is essentially public, and as such any information you post on Facebook is not private. Even if you change security settings your information is only as secure as the people who can view it. Another aspect is intellectual property use and the like. With sites like Facebook, the rules and regulations of content usage change over time and it sometimes may not be in the best interests of the original owner. Ultimately, any information provided on Facebook is open to the public, and as such, can be used for any purpose, be it good or bad.

  21. Laura

    Yes, employers have the right to check your Facebook page, as long as they aren’t asking for your user name and password to check the items that you have hidden from public view. Apparently, asking for twitter, Facebook, and email logins and passwords is something that is becoming more and more common during job interview, which I would liken to demanding to see you diary and riffle through your underwear drawer. Employers are doing it, however, and as prospective employees, we need to be ready for whatever they decide to toss our way. Personally, when my post university job search starts in earnest, I plan to create an alternate, work friendly Facebook page and email that contain nothing beyond basic information that I would be unashamed to show my 80 year old grandmother. From the flip side, prospective employees can use these social networking sites as a way to positively spin the pre-interview selection process, by filling their Facebook with things that employers would be happy to see. Pictures of you helping the elderly, or volunteering. Status updates about how awesome it is to apply to the company, and about how much you’d love to work there. It’s just another way you can market yourself.

  22. Tuan Tran

    Should potential employers have the right view your Facebook page? Yes, I think it is a great tool for potential employer to use as a hiring process. These companies spent a lot of money and human resource to find the right candidate for the job and the cost of repeated turnover due to lack information on the potential employee. Now with Facebook, employer could use the information in order to save time and money in the hiring process that Facebook users choose to share with the world and not on their interview or resume. What potential risks do you expose yourself to by participating on Facebook? Again it all up to the user, how inform the user are and of course the security and privacy setting on the service.

  23. M

    I absolutely think employers should be able to look at a person’s facebook page when looking at potential people to hire. If you have never thought companies do this you are acting pretty naive; especially in this day and age when getting personal information is so easy via facebook, twitter and multiple other social media outlets. Facebook is a publicly viewed site and there are privacy options in place that you can change yourself in order to protect yourself from being viewed by people who you do not want knowing about you. Changing these privacy settings is not hard to do and should have been done a long time ago, even more so as we advance in our professional careers. If you actually have pictures of poor professional behaviour viewable by anyone and everyone you are not too smart to begin with. Clearly there are risks associated with having personal information on a public site like facebook as well as having my picture readily available. By doing so I not only expose myself to risk around potential companies trying to look at my facebook page before I am hired and that reflecting poorly on me, but I’m also sure facebook collects information around all my activity while I am on facebook.

  24. Patrick

    I believe that it is totally okay for potential employers to view applicants profiles on site such as facebook, twiter, etc. I think that employers should use all recourses that are available to them to make right decisions on who would best benefit their organization. This information that they can obtain will help them in the decision of employing by allowing them to see the applicant in a way that they would not, in an interview. I think that it is totally up to the potential employees to make sure that their profiles are edited so that there are no photos or information that is likely to harm them in the future. It is a very simple process to untag themselves from photos (such as an image of you doing things such as keg standing) and statuses. Also they should edit their setting so that they don’t allow people that they don’t want to be able to “check them out”. This is a simple process and only will take a few minutes to do.
    I think that having a profile on these sites can be a good thing and a bad thing. It may help you get a job and, lose your job. And it is the person who creates these profiles who have to deal with the consequences.

  25. Cole

    If you use a social networking site like Facebook and you don’t have your privacy settings set accordingly, then by all means the employer has a right to look at your profile. With that being said I don’t think they should use this as a measure whether an applicant should get the job because we can’t control what other people post of us. What people do outside of work which is the majority of stuff posted on Facebook shouldn’t be associated hiring an applicant.

    Potential risks in participating in social networks like facebook can lead to you getting judged before they actually get to know you.

  26. JB

    I think that if a future possible employer has the opportunity to view your facebook page and everything that you have revealed about yourself publicly, then they should. They will get a bit of an insight into your personality. If you dislike the fact that a potential employer can see all of your facebook updates, statuses, and pictures then there is a simple solution that everyone has access to and if you are not smart enough to have figured out that solution already then maybe you deserve to have this future employer creep your profile. Many people now a day are addicted to facebook and other social media and will post every little detail about their life online for all to see. Some may say that not all can see but really who on there facebook just has there few personal friends on their friends list? Most people have all of their acquaintances such as people who they have met only a few times, school buddies, family members. If you’re going to let some of these people, who are more like strangers than friends, see every little thing you do then what is the difference with an employer. If you do not like this then don’t post every little detail about your life or things you would be embarrassed about on facebook, or put better security features on your page. Simple.

  27. Lealand McCallum

    Yes, employees definitely have the right to view the facebook page of any potential employee. I almost think it’s something that should be encouraged. If there is something on your facebook page that you are ashamed to let others see, it shouldn’t be there in the first place.. Or if you are worried about anyone viewing your personal information you should have the privacy settings set well enough that they are hidden. But overall the right to search a public community exists, the idea of checking a future employee’s habits and personal life is a good idea because it will show how they react in certain situations as well as if they are reliable or party too often than the company likes.

    I’ve also touched on the risks involved with exposing yourself on a public site that anyone can access. One being the fact that your whole personal life is open for anyone to view. and if you don’t like it either steer clear of social media sites.. Or learn to adjust the privacy policy in a way that hides all the materials that you don’t want anyone to see.

  28. Tom Moore

    In reference to the Wiley IS Weekly Update article “What Employers Are Thinking When They Look At Your Facebook Page” what does the article state is the best way to stop potential employers to look at your facebook profile?
    a) Set privacy settings high
    b) Set privacy settings low
    c) Delete all your pictures
    d) Don’t state political or religious views
    answer: a

    In reference to the Wiley IS Weekly Update article “What Employers Are Thinking When They Look At Your Facebook Page” What is one of the reasons potential employers are looking at potential employees Facebook Page?
    a) Costs of training and hiring exceed the risk of not doing research
    b) They want to see if you have done any illegal activities
    c) They want to see if you post often on Facebook/Twitter instead of doing work.
    d) They want to see how many twitter followers you have
    Answer: a

  29. Amber Dashney

    I agree and somewhat disagree with the use of facebook as a way of HR staff evaluating potential employees. I agree that if people are concerned with employers looking at their facebook page then they should change their privacy settings. But I also think that if employers are going to look at peoples facebook pages they should also agree to an interview. They make a good point about if someone had too much beer one night in college and someone took a picture, that does not accurately represent how they are at all times,By judging a drunken photo, most people would then be judged as alcoholics because of one picture. I do agree also with the content they are evaluating someones facebook page on, such as if the person is social, likes to have philisophical discussions, or if they are a generally unhappy person. So i think the use of facebook as a recruitment tool is okay as long as it isnt the only thing they are basing their decisions on.

  30. Billy Abesdris

    Life is a funny game where we are constantly playing different roles. The way we act in an interview is obviously different than the way we are acting when we a hammered trying to pick up girls at a bar. We must pretend to be different than our …real… selves if we hope to be successful in many different faucets of life and HR staff should and do usually know this. It would be ignorant for the interviewer to think you are a prude who doesn’t have any social life simply because you are acting like an overly polite overly articulate gentelman in a suit and tie but the point of the interview is to test to see that WHEN IT MATTERS you CAN act like this prude because certain circumstances will require it. If you are stupid enough to have a public picture of you naked passed out in the street, than what are you stupid enough to do in front of a customer? The employer wants to see that you can act the right way, at the right time and part of this is not letting others see your bar-side unless of course you and the staff are at the bar. Should the employer be allowed to go on google and search your name? Of course they should because it is exactly what you would do in attempting to speculate on a possible candidate.

  31. Darren Fletcher

    Everyone has the right to look at anything you post on Facebook and if you think for one minute that your rights are violated because you are foolish enough to post you dirty laundry on a website for the whole world to see than you should be fired and you should think about what it actually is. Face book is a free service and if you understand that Facebook is an information collection service.

    We have only begun to hear all the privacy issues in regards to social media and all that comes from within what we call the world wide web of lies. Your life if you post on Facebook is free game and others will at minimum judge you based on there perceptions of what the think happened.

    If you want to keep your life private than you should understand that all the repercussions that come from having a virtual social life

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