We read all the time about how you should watch what you post on social media profiles – such as those on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – because it can colour someone’s professional opinion of you. As of 2011, it was estimated that as many as 65% of potential employers were checking the social media profiles of potential candidates.
But now it seems the tables are turning, and it’s the potential employee who might be put off by you creeping around on what they feel is private online property.
According to a recent study by William Staughton, a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University, job applicants were unimpressed when they learned that employers were looking at their social media.
In one study, participants who had applied for a job online were told that their Facebook accounts had been reviewed for “professionalism,” and that a decision on whether they’d been hired was forthcoming. Of those candidates, two thirds said felt the screening was an invasion of privacy and that as a result, they found the company less attractive.
In a second study, participants were given a hypothetical scenario in which a prospective employer reviewed their Facebook profiles. Half of the participants were asked how they’d respond if they had gotten the job, and half were asked how they’d respond if they hadn’t gotten the job. Whether or not they were hired did not affect their opinion, and 60% still said they felt their privacy had been invaded. On top of that, 59% (so almost all of them) said they were significantly more likely than a control group to take legal action against the company for invasion of privacy.
So, not only could you turn off a potential candidate, but you might even get sued.
There is an element of ridiculousness here, to be sure. Once something is posted online, it seems bizarre to assume any right to “privacy.” Sure, one might also argue that posts shared on Facebook are intended for a selected group of online “friends,” of which you are not one, but, if you’re able to access it at all, that means it’s been posted publicly, not privately, and is fair game.
On the other hand, there’s some suggestion that snooping isn’t worth the risk.
A separate study out of Florida State University suggests that what you find on social media might not reflect what you’ll find in a professional capacity. The report examines how recruiter ratings of Facebook profiles compare with actual job performance assessment.
The researchers had recruiters evaluate the Facebook profiles of college students who were applying for full-time jobs. They then then followed up with applicants in their new jobs and found that: “Recruiter ratings of applicants’ Facebook information were unrelated to supervisor ratings of job performance.”
Also, “there was evidence of subgroup difference in Facebook ratings that tended to favor female and White applicants.” Interesting, right?
The researchers concluded that, “The overall results suggest that organizations should be very cautious about using social media information such as Facebook to assess job applicants.”
That’s just one study though.
Also, it turns out that most Canadian candidates aren’t concerned with employers looking at their online posts. Most just assume that employers will be pre-screening them using their social media profiles. When polled by Workopolis, over 60% of job seekers said that they thought this was normal practice. Less than 25% said that they would hold such practice against a potential employer.
Also, Staughton’s report does say that “Applicants low in agreeableness had the most adverse reactions to social networking website screening.” Well, duh. Those who are going to get huffy over something like this might not be the candidates you want working for you anyway.
To read the original article, click here.