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How Social Media is Muddying the Waters for Job Seekers

How Social Media is Muddying the Waters for Job Seekers

Teena Rose | CareerRealism

Invited to an interview, you step into the room and unload that heavy photo album you’ve been clinging to onto the conference table. In addition to a resume and brag book, you have pictures on your iPhone of your dogs and the neighbor’s cat stalking the birds enjoying your new bird feeder.

The interview progresses by you opening and flipping through the pages of your album, pointing to your family and friends. You gladly draw the interviewer’s attention to those older pictures taken during your college days…and to the many of your drunk, sleeping positions your friends encapsulated forever through one click of a camera.

Eeerrrk!!!

What? Personal items presented during an interview?

Why not? Isn’t that basically what hiring companies are doing rummaging through your public social media accounts, learning more about you and your online activities?

The next few years are certainly gray, uncharted waters for job seekers. The issue of whether a person’s personal life and involvement online should have any place in the hiring realm is definitely a topic that will be battled over for years — maybe even decades. Some might unexpectedly find themselves entangled in lawsuits, as privacy experts grow increasingly concerned disqualifying a candidate based on information gained online can introduce certain forms of discrimination into the hiring process.

Job seekers have every right to be concerned about protecting their online identities from prying eyes, but where should the line be drawn? Employers shouldn’t be given uninhibited access to a job seeker’s private life, should they?

Interestingly, a recent study released at Microsoft’s 4th Annual Data Privacy Day identified 70% of those surveyed in the U.S. indicated they had disqualified a candidate based on online information. What was the incriminating online information that caused the disqualification? Of course this was not made public…and behind the curtain of hiring, only HR managers and recruiters seem privy to such information.

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