With all the new technology happening today, employers are getting creative by conducting background checks using Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to eliminate candidates.
The laws are pretty strict on what an employer can have access to when they conduct background checks, but with the Internet, human resource administrators are side stepping some of those laws. According to a Careerbuilder survey, 45 percent of employers screen candidates Facebook, Twitter, and other online activity. The argument is that it is public information, and therefore they are allowed to use it.
The only problem with using social media sites for conducting background checks is that employers are not required to disclose if a candidate has been turned down due to information obtained from this search, so a person would not know.
Many prospective employees feel that their right to online expression is being used against them without recourse. Aside from the fact that the check is subjective. One has to ask, what exactly is unacceptable? If a person mentions they had a glass of wine with friends is that too much info? Or, would it require pictures of them sprawled across the lawn? What views are they being judged on? Is it their political views? Ability to communicate in the online arena?
Employers argue that the information is public information, but it could also be argued that unless something has been signed which spells out exactly what they are looking for, then it is just a way to get around the valid background check laws. Meaning, if a person submits an application with all their personal information, an employer can circumvent the regular laws and base their hiring or not based on a person’s online presence and not have to tell the prospect anything.
The reasoning being used is that employers want to measure how a person conducts them self online. Granted, pictures of someone chugging might not be the best introduction, but should what a person has done within the legal limits and in many ways, accepted as norm, be held against them? Should having a MySpace account preclude some from employment as has been stated by many employers?
Further, if an employer will snoop prior to hiring, what is to stop them from doing it after employment? Is society ready to possibly be penalized for activities that have nothing to do with their job? Since Facebook is the primary place employers are going, it might be wise for all potential candidates to change their settings to private and only allow content to be seen by friends. Never under any circumstance accept an employer as a friend. Steer them to LinkedIn.
This may not solve the snooping, but until there are laws in place to protect candidates, they must be proactive in steering employers where they want them to go. Bit. irregardless of who might see it, if a person would not feel comfortable sharing it with a parent, then it might not be wise to post it for the world to see.
Percent of people not on the web
Screening Job Candidates