Quick job seekers’ quiz. When you apply for a job, the employer can legally:
- Look at your social media sites to see how you appear publicly
- Ask for your passwords to examine the private areas of your social media sites
- Look over your shoulder as you log in to the private areas of your social media sites
- All of the above
Yes, my paranoid friends, the answer is 4. Facebook is trying to block these practices, and some states have launched efforts to make them illegal. But, for now, an employer can legally ask you to hand over your passwords, and if you don’t like it, you’re welcome to look for a job somewhere else.
Go ahead—rant about privacy and the First Amendment for a minute. I’m with you.
But, now that we’ve got that out of our systems, let’s consider the upside to employers digging through your social media history. Yes, the upside:
Ask yourself, if you wanted an employer to truly know your best qualities, would you share your resume or your LinkedIn profile?
A standard job application, or your Facebook homepage? A recommendation from a volunteer coordinator, or your detailed blog entries about the volunteering experience?
You get the point. If you want to be recognized as more than just a name on a dry, faceless resume, your social media presence can make it happen.
That’s why many employers are abandoning resumes altogether. They’re finally realizing that jobs are relationships. If you’re going to spend 40 or more hours a week with someone, you don’t just want to know where they worked or went to school. You want to know who they really are.
So, yes, let’s be paranoid about employers and social media. But let’s be glad, too. In the big picture, I’m glad employers are finally starting to care less about resumes and more about actual people.