“I don’t want to see their resumes before I see their Facebook. AND don’t give me that privacy stuff; get over yourself, nobody is stalking you!
These are the words of a small business owner I was chatting with recently and the catalyst that prompted this article.
This young, dynamic entrepreneur is no doubt tapping into a workforce of young professionals who will complement her energetic style and align themselves with the vibrant, customer-care environment she extols. By going straight to social media and researching potential job candidates, she is looking for the authentic person that to her, is more “real” than the glossy content of a resume where people present their most professional, public face to employers.
After our chat, I felt uneasy. A jobseeker’s online footprint can be hard (if not impossible) to erase and there are many, many employees who have lost jobs or interviews when a rudimentary search on Google reveals some questionable behaviours, images, interests or unguarded moments.
Trying to sustain a consistent, personal brand 24 x 7 can be difficult enough for a business professional with years of experience, let alone a young person who perhaps is yet to understand the long-term ramifications of a hastily posted photo or anger-filled rant. Even if this was uppermost in the mind of the jobseeker, sometimes friends can reveal information or images best left to personal get-togethers than a public wall. Deleting and untagging photos to sustain a professional brand could become an ongoing chore if life was such an open book.
What if you were desperate to get a job with this exciting business? Would you sacrifice privacy to get the job? What if the conditions of the job meant you were to maintain an unlocked Facebook page so if you were home sick from work, your Facebook status could be checked?
To get a feel for such an experience, I went to the business owner’s personal Facebook. She practises what she preaches; her life is an open book. I can see her friends, her leisure-time activities, the type of music she likes, and her philosophy of life. Oh.. and now we’re ‘friends’ so I can write on her wall.
But now I’m a customer and a friend. Has that blurred the boundaries and how do I feel about that? To be truthful, I admit to being a little disappointed. On the telephone she’s friendly, in charge and professional. Her follow-up emails are bright and breezy, her marketing is the best I’ve seen for a while (certainly in her industry). In my mind I have a good feel for her brand: smart, professional, customer-service focused and an expert in her field. It all goes slightly awry when she has a private life that sounds perfectly normal but to which I would not normally be exposed.
The lines are being blurred right across social media and of course it is routine for recruiters and employers to look online to find out what they can about the “real” person behind the resume on their desks.
The difference is when it becomes the primary and initial source of information and forces the jobseeker to reveal all to even be considered for a job.
Then the lines between employer, employees, friend and influential snoop become unfocused and somewhat uneasy.[polldaddy poll=4375317]