How Facebook Can Cost You a Job

Resume How Facebook Can Cost You a JobToday, More Than Ever Before, Employers Exploit Available Online Resources Such as Facebook to Conduct Background Investigations Even Without Your Permission

You’ve spent almost four years and $80,000 on a college education, and you’re looking forward to graduation and earning some money to start living independently. You spend time with “resume experts,” craft the perfect resume, and then utilize LinkedIn to make the right contacts to find out who’s hiring. After months of work, you get a fantastic lead, and send your resume to “Integrity Prevails, Inc.” Two weeks later, you get a phone call from the Human Resources (HR) Department at “Integrity,” wherein they express great interest, and then schedule a phone interview with you. Phone interview! You’ve gotten that far! Shine through this and you’ll get an onsite interview! Three days later you get an e-mail indicating that “Although your credentials are noteworthy, we have found another candidate whose qualifications more closely match those for the available position.” What just happened?

There are only a few things that could have happened, and none of them have to do with “Integrity” having found a better candidate. First, someone in HR may have “jumped the gun” when calling you, i.e. calling candidates before actually being ready to interview them. This does happen occasionally. Second, one of your references might not have come through for you in a positive manner. This is highly doubtful if you’ve given careful consideration to whom you’re using as references. The third possibility, and a very likely one these days, is that you were quite literally “screwed” because of what appears on your Facebook account or other places on the internet. HR representatives practice routine disqualification tactics to eliminate candidates from the pool of resumes and/or potential interviewees.

BB is Watching You How Facebook Can Cost You a JobIt appears as though George Orwell’s predictions based in the novel 1984 are coming true: we are slowly and surely losing more and more of our personal privacy rights every day. Big Brother now has more rights than we do. Welcome to the real world, the one you’ve been preparing yourself for. No one hands out manuals for this, hence the article, “How Facebook Can Cost You a Job.”

You’ve spent almost four years and $80,000 on a college education… and you were quite literally “screwed” because of what appears on your Facebook account.

With some employers, a practice known as “Shoulder Surfing” is now being used as an “on the spot” tactic to see if you have anything potentially embarrassing in your closet. You might get to an interview with “Integrity Prevails, Inc.,” and at some point the HR representative will ask you for the password to your Facebook account. What did he say? Yep, you heard me right. Thank the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for this one. Current law entitles potential employers to use your Facebook history as part of the background checking process. You might not be applying for a position as James Bond with British Intelligence. In fact, you might just be applying for a position as a laboratory technician, however they can still “coerce” you by indicating it’s a necessary requirement for getting the job.

Shoulder Surfing How Facebook Can Cost You a JobWhat can you do about this legally? Not one thing. The FTC in its infinite wisdom gave employers the right to violate the privacy of your personal life by invading your Facebook account. What can you do about this strategically? Two things. First, if you plan on looking for a job in 2013, then start “sanitizing” that Facebook account now. Get rid of every last detail that could possibly be misconstrued as “unworthy of Integrity.” Second, once you’ve done this, if you’re still concerned about your privacy, you can tell the employer that you’ve forgotten your password. This does happened. I went for one year without using Facebook, and forgot my password, so now my personal account is inaccessible. Uh oh! Hate it when that happens!

Although I hesitate to post a link here, there is a rather amusing video on YouTube that gets the point across unambiguously. Search “Facebook Ruins Job Interview.”

If you absolutely need Facebook, then make up a fictitious name, and be VERY careful about the photos you post. Once an embarrassing photograph of you appears on the internet, it’s almost impossible to remove. Keep in mind there are now 6-7 people in the United States applying for every single job. Employers routinely get inundated with thousands of resumes within two days after a job announcement. They use tactics such as this one to eliminate “undesirable” candidates, and hence reduce the number of people they need to consider in greater detail.

It’s a strange world out there. Clean up that Facebook account as soon as possible, and eliminate Facebook as a potential “eliminator.

© 2012 O-Chem Prof

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4 thoughts on “How Facebook Can Cost You a Job

  1. Several colleges are actually using FB, Tumblr and other social material (public) as factors in college admissions as well.

    I have always advised students to create a fictional email for anything social, and to have a separate email in their real name for official uses only. Sadly, it may even be a good idea to make a secondary FB account in your real name, with that real email, that you rarely use (since showing one that isn’t used much may be more convincing than saying you don’t have a fb account at all).

    I’ve always followed this advice myself because of the insidious ‘morality clause’ and I sympathise deeply with today’s youth. You will have less chance to act like idiots as you learn and grow and have it eventually forgotten about than any generation ever. Less privacy. Less of a fair chance to show who you are as a whole person. I hope that when you reach the point where you are making decisions about who to admit to college or who to hire for a job that you do your best to make this a better world than it currently is.

    • Nursing schools, in a response to more applicants than they can handle, have started this routine also. Facebook is used as an eliminator. I’m not certain about medical schools, however my instinct tells me the better ones are also using Facebook for elimination. Part of the problem is what youth place onto their Facebook accounts, however the other part of the problem are the insidious apps that freely assimilate a user’s personal information for whatever purpose the app makers wish. Facebook apps can be a dangerous thing because people are potentially signing their rights away when they accept the terms.

  2. I have had someone to post very negative things about me that are not true it has been very damaging to me and my getting a good job I have been accused of things I did not do it has been posted everyday I am trying to stop it I am trying to get someone to trace where its coming from how do I stop this.

    • Cathey,

      It’s importantI I first indicate in unambiguous terms that I am not an attorney, that my comments are purely speculative, and in no capacity should be construed as legal advice. For the record, I am unqualified to offer legal advice, and whatever you perceive from my statement is a matter of your personal choice for which you are ultimately accountable.

      What you’ve stated has been done to you could potentially be prosecuted via civil suit if damages can be proven and certain legal requirements are met. My “unofficial suggestion of record” is for you to contract an attorney.

      That being said, if someone knowingly commits to writing a damaging untruth about you resulting in character assassination, the person has, by definition, committed an act of libel, however some comments left on the internet may be classified as free speech, and could amount to slander. Bringing this to the attention of an attorney could conceivably empower that attorney to subpoena the “hosting post website” into releasing information about the offending party unavailable to you, i.e. his/her identifying information and IP address, if available.

      You’ll likely need to contract an attorney, prove to him/her the comments are untrue, then proceed via legal means to prosecute the responsible person, if possible. Even here there could be issues related to “fair comment.” The defendant could argue that his/her comments were based upon strong beliefs of genuinely held opinion based upon perceived factual information.

      These types of issues require legal expertise that may only be provided to you via a qualified attorney in your state or local area. There are legal aid resources that may be found on Google to help direct you to an attorney who handles libel cases.

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