Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sweet or Sour Social Networking Implications for Job Applicants?

Who’d a thunk… You’re a new college grad applying for a position at an accounting firm. You’re an above-average student and a good candidate for the job. But it’s the new millennium -- and potential employers , without overt intentions to either violate privacy or over-step the hiring process necessarily, actually rely on Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter, to inform their decision-making process.
And there it is -- the reference to your sorority/fraternity exploits peripherally mentioned on a fellow college grad’s Facebook page. Does it, or “should” it, matter??
In a recent article on "The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Networking," it’s stated that,
“The number of employers using social networking sites to screen candidates
has more than doubled [emphasis added] since 2008.”
A King County (Seattle) Bar Association article notes that 44% of prospective employers and 39% of current employers seek out social networking sites on applicants and current employees. Ouch.
So let’s get this straight – there are laws that prohibit age, gender, race or political affiliation discrimination in hiring/firing processes, but it’s totally permissible to access that information on social networking sites? Maybe, maybe not.
And on the other hand, perhaps it’s reasonable and prudent measures for current and future employers to access information on these fast-growing sites, in order to justifiably do their own due diligence.
If the above-referenced applicant was applying to Crowe Horwath, LLP, a public accounting and consulting firm whose strategic sourcing director has been quoted in the same article as saying that they, “leverage social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for their information security hiring needs,” that applicant may be looking elsewhere.
Leave a sour taste?
Progress can be bittersweet but the palate is still to be determined for these samplings, as many courts have not yet had to render decisions relating to social networking. In the meantime, beware for where you post!
Sue B Martines, J.D.


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