Inspiration

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Facebook Vs. CVs - is it ok for employers to stalk applicants?

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As Facebook timeline is being pushed upon us more and more forcefully from the powers that be, you might want to stop and ponder the implications of opting to have your entire Facebook past accessible to all. Click on 2008 and photos of a stag night pop up, click on 2010 and recall messages from friends consoling you about a bereavement or a breakup. As each day goes by, Facebook collects more and more moments of our lives, a powerful bank of information. Consider that in 20 years time, a big chuck of our entire life will be stored on a server somewhere, in 100 years time when we are no longer around, Facebook will be an invaluable online record of past generations. This can be a comforting thought, but also a scary one, especially when it comes to your working life.

In January of 2010, a survey for Careerbuilder concluded that over half of employers use social networking sites to suss out potential new employees. In Germany, the government have moved to make it illegal for employers to use personal social networks as part of their recruitment business. Job-seekers in Germany now have the right to take legal action if they discover that their employer has made decisions on their application based on information they got from Facebook. Here in the UK, we have rights under the Data Protection Act to protect people accessing our personal information, but unless an employee is caught printing off or forwarding something from Facebook, there is little chance of them being caught.

Is it right for employers to go snooping? It's a tricky debate. On one hand, employers have absolutely no right to go poking about in our private lives and forming judgements on us from conversations and photos on Facebook, there are other legitimate background check systems in place to inform them of important things such as criminal convictions. But then again, if you are running your own business, you want to ensure you are trusting the right people. Facebook is in some cases, the most realistic record of a person you can get, say for example, you find out that your prospective employee has some suspect right-wing associations, forwarned is forarmed, is it not?

Most of us would shudder at the thought of our boss snooping through our Facebook profile, but we happily use sites such as Linkedin for professional social networking where we are all on our best behaviour. It would seem that we all have different faces that we want to show to different people, this can be easy in real life but on the internet, it's there for all to see, if you don't adjust your privacy settings correctly, that is.

Employers are not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of disability, race or sex. ACAS issued a new guide which urges employers not to hastily penalise staff who have made unprofessional comments on social websites.

Another layer to the debate is that employers might actually like you more once they have looked at your personal profile. If you are connected with the right people, write amazing blogs or show that you are more outgoing than you came across in the interview, Facebook can actually be a helping hand in getting you a job.

Its confusing stuff and just one of the many implications that the age of social networking is having on the world. The best thing you can do when you get a friend request from your boss is to leave it pending until they hopefully forget they asked in the first place.

How would you feel about being judged on your Facebook? Or have you been guilty of applicant stalking?

Jessica Hazel

Writer, blogger and director of Smoking Gun Vintage

http://creativepool.co.uk/jessicahazel

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