Employers to applicants: not being a member of Facebook means you are suspicious

Beware job applicants: not having a Facebook account could cast suspicion on you.

On a more tangible level, Forbes.com reports that human resources departments across the country are becoming more wary of young job candidates who don’t use the site.

The common concern among bosses is that a lack of Facebook could mean the applicant’s account could be so full of red flags that it had to be deleted…

It points out that Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and an unborn child and wounding 58 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and Breivik, who murdered  77 people with a car bomb and mass shooting, did not use Facebook and had small online footprints…

And this is what the argument boils down to: It’s the suspicion that not being on Facebook, which has become so normal among young adults, is a sign that you’re abnormal and dysfunctional, or even dangerous, ways.

Facebook is the new normal, but the idea that people not on Facebook are necessarily suspicious is a gross overgeneralization, particularly when tied to just two tragedies. I can imagine a variety of good reasons for being a nonuser that doesn’t indicate one is a psychopath.

The interest employers have in Facebook certainly is interesting. I blogged a while back about some employers wanting the password of applicants so they could look over their profiles. How does looking at a profile stack up against other ways of getting information such as reading a resume, doing a background check, and checking references?


One thought on “Employers to applicants: not being a member of Facebook means you are suspicious

  1. The problem with looking at facebook profiles, that employers don’t seem to get unless they are sued, is the huge potential for discrimination. Okay, you see that they held a bong in a photo with some underdressed women: don’t want that guy! But you also saw that he had a Star of David around his neck, and he can say you weren’t hiring him because he was Jewish. Racial, ethnic, religious, marital, sexual orientation, and gender-based discrimination, even ALLEGED or ACCIDENTAL, is so possible based on social media, that the ‘cons’ far outweigh the ‘pros’.

    Aside from the obvious discrimination, many HR reps I work with are very quick to make judgments and assumptions based on clothing, posing, facial expressions, types of friends/family in facebook photos, with no context for the information, and may be missing out on perfectly wonderful candidates as a result. Are there any studies showing correlation between those who don’t hire with “bad” facebook profiles and employee retention/performance? I haven’t seen any. Searching facebook gives hiring managers a sense of power over the candidates, but I don’t think it adds anything of substantive value – or if it does, it is doing so EXCEEDINGLY rarely.


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