It is challenging enough to change jobs, transition careers, and move up the corporate ladder. Recently, it has come to the attention of the public that companies and government agencies have started asking for passwords to a job seeker’s social media accounts before or during an interview to get access to personal information contained therein. What companies are finding is that they are blocked from private information on social media sites and, as a result, are demanding access.
Before social media was so prevalent, companies would obtain information on potential candidates by using private investigators or completing a background search of varying degrees. These services could be expensive when multiple applicants were involved. Today’s social media searches are virtually cost-free, a real savings in the hiring process for organizations. So you can understand their incentive here.
With the rise of social networking, career strategists have been coaching their clients for several years how to eliminate and/or hide digital dirt, and set up restrictions on their social media to keep certain information private. Facebook stands out the most above the other social networks because of their options in privacy settings.
Companies are already experiencing the resistance from job seekers in turning over that information, so they are seeking other ways to penetrate your social media profiles. Other strategies being taken:
- Asking applicants to friend the HR manager, recruiter, or interviewer
- Logging in to a company computer during the interview
- Using a third-party programs like BeKnown that can sometimes access personal profile information
Another way around passwords is having applicants apply on the company job site using their Facebook login which then allows a third-party application to get information from the applicant profile, including friend lists.
Public agencies who hire 911 dispatchers and law enforcement positions like police officers are particularly concerned about what is being shared on social media. Their reasoning for asking for passwords is to find out if the applicant is involved in gang activity which would affect their hire.
The biggest concern here is that pressure is placed on job seekers to give up their privacy rights where social networking is involved. Whether this information is given voluntarily or under duress, your privacy is comprised if you want to be considered for the job in most instances.
Social network terms of service is violated when giving out Facebook login information, however, these violations do not carry much legal weight. And the Department of Justice considers it a federal crime to enter a social networking site in violation of the terms of service, but again, violations are not prosecuted.
Some organizations have put new policies in place that require an employee to sign a non-disparagement agreement banning them from talking negatively about an employer on social media. Of course, the savvy executive would never engage in this type of behavior, right?
So, just when you think you have the job search strategies figured out, it changes. Be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to your job search strategies and keep your social networking channels professional in content.