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Public Relations, Social Media

Give It Up… Or Else.

The new trend in hiring and recruiting: requesting social media passwords.


It seems there’s a new trend in the job hunting world. Or maybe it is all a nasty rumor. (Recent news articles have me thinking otherwise.)

After a recent conversation with peers, I decided to further investigate the issue of social media in the workplace, particularly during the job hunting process.

Now, personally, I can confidently say that I have nothing to hide from perspective employers. My Facebook page reveals little more than pictures of me with family and friends as well as an obnoxious number of posts promoting events (myself or my organizations have put on throughout the semester).  I am more of a Facebook monitor than an active user. Regardless, I would feel uncomfortable if a potential employer asked to see my Facebook page during the interviewing process.

Rumor has it that young professionals have been asked to pull up their pages right there in front of the interviewer. This sort of “give it up or else” practice is a violation of privacy.

In recent news:

“Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two privacy bills, that prohibit employers, universities employees, and university representatives from requiring or even requesting the log-in information for the social media accounts of their employees, prospective employees, students, prospective students, or student groups.” (PR NEWS)

Employers may not request the log-in information, but they are still requesting to SEE the profiles. And what would be the consequence of an job hunter who refuses? Well, he/she probably won’t get the job.

I believe recruiters would be better off administering personality tests (or similar temperament tests) to potential employees.  This would be a far better measure of a person’s character, work ethic, integrity, strength, sense of urgency, etc.  That information is far more useful that a peek at someone’s profile pictures. That information will not be revealed on an individual’s social media page.

What may be revealed, though, is a person’s sexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc. Recruiters would never ASK you about these things during an interview? So, why now are these becoming things that must be shown? What happened to “equal opportunity employment?”

A recruiter arguing my point might say: “We want to see what your social life is like. We don’t want to hire a drug addict or a party animal.”  Fair.  But these are things that would soon enough reveal themselves in a person’s productivity at work (or lack there of) or even in their presentation during an interview. First impressions are important.

My recommendation to lawmakers is to increase the protection rights for employees (and potential employees) to eliminate this practice entirely. After all, Facebook isn’t a far cry from other social media platforms, or even from email.

Recommendations for social media privacy:

  • If a colleague or boss tries to connect with you online, defer them to your LinkedIn account. This is really the only appropriate social media platform to share with co-workers.
  • Make your profile private. Even if you don’t have anything to hide. There’s no reason to let random creeps or potential employers peruse through years of your digital life.
  • Keep up to date with changing privacy policies. It seems Facebook changes their settings daily. Always double check that your timeline, videos, etc. are only visible to “friends.”

Relevant Articles:

What do you think?

Share in the comment section below.  Follow me on Twitter @AESmith03.

    Opinions expressed are my own.


Stock photo description:
Muenster, Germany – May 7, 2011: facebook.com website seen through a blurred keyhole.  Photo taken on: May 06th, 2011

About Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a public relations student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Amanda is currently the V.P. of Public Relations on the Panhellenic Council executive board. She is also involved with PRSSA and Hill Communications, a student-run public relations firm.


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