Facebook is a place where people go to connect with others, share pictures, brag about accomplishments, make their political and religious feelings known and, often, go off on rants about others, including employers.
Some local businesses said they check social media when hiring.
Local advertising and media agency Ackerman McQueen is one.
Employee Sheena Karami said although her department does not require checking social media sites, she checks them out of curiosity. Karami works in the Vice President Office of the Chief Operating Officer.
“It’s nice to know how people present themselves, and what they really are like,” she said.
“What you put on your résumé isn’t always necessarily indicative of who you are. If I have the opportunity to look elsewhere to see. It’s a much more encompassing picture of who the potential candidate is. It’s nice to have all the information.”
Karami said social media sites are important outlets in media industry companies, such as Ackerman McQueen.
“It’s amazing how people will kind of lay it all out there and complain about things, or rant about things and they don’t realize ‘oh maybe my profile is not private,’” she said.
Karami said she wants to know who the company is really hiring, because, she said, they only want top-notch candidates.
“If the best-of-the-best is not going to put their best foot forward in how they represent themselves on their personal site, then that’s not someone I’m interested in hiring.”
Other employers worry about the implications of using social networking sites to make hiring decisions.
OCCC’s Human Resource Employment and Employee Relations Specialist May Moon said while a background check is required on applicants, that doesn’t include a social media check.
“OCCC does not practice researching social media,” Moon said.
“It’s not recommended by our department, because it just opens up a whole can of worms that you do not want to get into.
“It could potentially provide information that may lead to discrimination.”
University of Oklahoma Human Resources Representative Bernita Woolfolk said her office also doesn’t check applicants’ social networking sites.
“It is not something that we have made a decision to do here,” Woolfolk said but didn’t provide further explanation.
In the past, some employers have gone as far as to ask applicants for login information to their social networking sites.
That prompted Oklahoma Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-OKC) to author a bill that prohibits employers from requesting or requiring access to employee social media accounts in Oklahoma. According to openstates.org, HB 2372 was signed into law May 21, 2014.
Loveless said he had heard of some instances where employers had asked for social media logins and passwords.
He said he has a social media account and it seemed unusual to him that a person’s private site would be open to scrutiny when an employer doesn’t have the right to look through personal U.S. mail.
Loveless said the law was not designed to change the background checking process on possible employees, meaning searching an employee’s Facebook is not prohibited.
It just means an employer cannot ask that social networking login and password information be revealed.
Loveless said social networking sites already offer privacy settings. Therefore, he said, “we didn’t feel that the bill that we had needed to address that specifically.”
“We kind of struck a balance … ,” he said. “We wanted to try to balance both the needs of the employee, as well as the needs of the employer.”
Even working college students may find themselves under a microscope.
O’Connell’s Bar in Norman is one business that looks at Facebook pages.
Manager Jeff Stewart said he randomly checks potential employee’s Facebook accounts. He said it’s a precaution before hiring somebody he doesn’t know.
“[Facebook] is an added bit of information,” he said. “I think it’s fair to look at it, but I also think it’s fair to question the applicant about it.”
Stewart said he looks at what activities someone may be involved in.
“Maybe something demonstrates to us [what] we interpret as a lack of responsibility — something along that line,” he said.
Victoria’s Pasta Shop Manager Griffin Miller said he also checks Facebook before hiring someone.
“It’s overall things,” he said. People put all sorts of crazy things on the Internet.”
CareerBuilder.com reported that the most common reasons to pass on a candidate included:
• Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46 percent.
• Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs – 41 percent.
• Job candidates bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee – 36 percent.
• Job candidate had poor communication skills – 32 percent.
• Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion etc. – 28 percent.
• Job candidate lied about qualifications – 25 percent.
• Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers – 24 percent.
• Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior – 22 percent.
• Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional – 21 percent.
• Job candidate lied about an absence – 13 percent.
The website went on to report that, in some cases, social networking may actually help someone get a job.
“… One third of employers who research candidates on social networking sites say they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate.
“What’s more, nearly a quarter found content that directly led to them hiring the candidate, up from 19 percent last year.
“Some of the most common reasons employers hired a candidate based on their social networking presence included:
• Got a good feel for the job candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture – 46 percent.
• Job candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job – 45 percent.
• Job candidate’s site conveyed a professional image – 43 percent.
• Job candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 40 percent.
• Job candidate had great communication skills – 40 percent.
• Job candidate was creative – 36 percent.
• Job candidate received awards and accolades – 31 percent.
• Other people posted great references about the job candidate – 30 percent.
• Job candidate had interacted with my company’s social media accounts – 24 percent.
• Job candidate had a large amount of followers or subscribers – 14 percent.
Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, said those looking for work need to try and make a good impression — in person and online.
“It’s important for job seekers to remember that much of what they post to the Internet — and in some cases, what others post about them — can be found by potential employers, and that can affect their chances of getting hired down the road,” Haefner said.
“Job seekers need to stay vigilant, and pay attention to privacy updates from all of their social networking accounts so they know what information is out there for others to see.
“Take control of your web presence by limiting who can post to your profile and monitoring posts you’ve been tagged in.”
Robin Cross, biology major, said she believes employers should look at someone’s Facebook.
“I think that it’s kind of like another way they can see who you really are as a person, because I feel like people can really put on a front in an interview and [while] that can help you get a job, it might just be a waste of the employees time … ,” Cross said.
Art and pre-education major Kelsey Rice said she agrees.
“I think it’s fair, because people on Facebook show exactly what kind of person they are and if you’re a responsible person who could be doing something very inappropriate for a work environment, your employer should know about that,” she said.
Mechanical engineering major Kale Harper said Facebook can give employers insight.
“It gives them an idea of their character, tells them who they’re going to be working with and what kind of person they are,” Harper said.
Computer science major Peter Hodgen agreed that employers should check Facebook.
“Whoever is applying for the job shouldn’t have anything to hide,” Hodgden said.
“If they’re lying about something, then obviously that’s an issue.”
Monica Neri, pre-education major, said she does not think employers should look at Facebook.
“It’s personal,” she said.
Rachel Dely, fashion marketing major, said she is indifferent.
“Honestly, I don’t think it should matter,” she said.
“Personally, it just depends on how much they trust their employee before they hire them.”
For more information about social networking and jobs, visit www.careerbuilder.com.
For more information on HB 2372, visit http://openstates.org/ok/bills/2013-2014/HB2372.
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