Business Owner or Undercover Investigator – Is Facebook a Good Judge of Character?

Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Business Management, Business News, Business Start Up Advice, Social Networking [ 1 Comment ]

It has been less than one year since I graduated and was thrown into the “might as well forget it” job search.

As if the economy wasn’t bad enough, the lovely “real world” has given my generation a thin line to walk on known as social networking. When businesses think of social networking, they typically think about all of the marketing possibilities and connections a business can make with many different audiences – this is the focus.

However, there is one aspect of social networking that, quite conveniently, has somehow remained in the shadows. When the topic of conversation arises, college campuses have no problem bringing the issue to light: Should employers Facebook search potential employees before hiring?

According to a 2009 survey, “45 percent of employers questioned are using social networks to screen job candidates [and] 35 percent of employers decided not to offer a job to a candidate based on the content uncovered on a social networking site.” Naturally, such big numbers raise red flags among Facebook users playing the get-a-job game.

Ultimately, Facebook and other social Web sites are public. This issue becomes a question of morals and whether or not it is right to hire someone based on something as informal as a Facebook page or Twitter account.

In the end, it is the owners and managers decision; however if you are new on the employee hiring scene, consider some of the pros and cons to using this tactic as a way to make employment decisions.

Be an Investigator and Go for It

  1. As a good business owner, you should use every resource available –

It cannot hurt to take a look at a Facebook page or Twitter account to see what a candidate may be up to in their spare time. After all, you want an employee who, at the very least, has the smarts to block their Facebook page and monitor its content. Facebook allows this, so hopefully your candidate will make it easy for you and use those features.

2. Social networks can work in a candidates favor, and this should not be overlooked –

If your company is looking for a writer or designer, sometimes social networks can serve as an extended resume. Social networks allow for creativity, and someone who will be good at their job will likely already be active in their field.

3. Social sites can help you to see the real person and not the nervous-interview version –

It can sometimes be difficult to tell whether or not a person will really fit into your company during an interview because there are so many unnatural factors that come into play. Interviewing can be very nerve-racking, and it is not uncommon for someone to put on a bit of an act.

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook!

  1. Social sites could be completely false for the sake of getting a job –

Take it from me, college students are catching on to the trends. If a candidate is smart they can create a new, perfect social networking Web site that will fit into exactly what an employer wants to see. Note: This is the opposite as #3 above. When looking at a Facebook page ask yourself: Does this look real? In the end, it’s all a leap of faith.

2. There can be inaccurate information on social networking sites –

There are often glitches and viruses that can enter a social networking site. You may think that a candidate posted something on their Facebook page, but the reality could be that it is a virus. Social networking also moves very quickly, so if there was ever something on a Facebook page that the user did not like, it may take a while to even notice that it is there.

3. You have enough mediums to interview a candidate, so it is not worth the risk.

The real “uncovering” is done when you give a background check, drug test, employment history check, and by looking at a resume. If nothing unusual comes up through all of these different mediums, you are probably safe. Avoid any ethics questions you may have to field if you used social networks and stick to the way it has been working since the days before the Internet.

Balanced Solution

In the end, a great idea would be to use a bit of both strategies. Before making a decision about an employee, interview them. Try to avoid looking at Facebook before meeting someone to avoid creating a pre-conceived notion about that person. This way, you can give each person a good, fair first interview and narrow down your employees accordingly.

Then, if you feel that it is in your best interest to tap into social networking sites, see what you find. If you find something you do not particularly like, consider having a second interview to discuss some concerns a social network may have brought up in your mind.

If employers would really take the time to sit down and think about the positives and negatives that digging into social networks can do for a company and for an employee, college students and those on the job hunt would feel more comfortable being themselves and using social networks the way they were intended.

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One thought on “Business Owner or Undercover Investigator – Is Facebook a Good Judge of Character?

  1. Pingback: Business Owner or Undercover Investigator – Is Facebook a Good Judge of Character? – Resource Nation (blog) | Facebook Page Marketing

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