Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Facebook and discretion.

MSN has an article today about how employers use Facebook and MySpace to screen potential employees. They have some scary statistics:

"Thirty-one percent of hiring managers say they have disqualified a candidate after searching the Web and discovering the candidate had lied about his or her qualifications. Other dismissals resulted from:

-Poor communication skills (25%)
-Criminal behavior (24%)
-Badmouthing previous companies or employees (19%)
-Posting information about drinking or drug use (19%)
-Disclosing confidential information about previous employers (15%)
-Lying about an absence (12%)
-Provocative or inappropriate photographs (11%)
-Unprofessional screen name (8%)

I understand how people can have a false sense of security with these websites. When Facebook first started in 2003, it was only open to college students. As far as I know, no one else could join: no faculty or staff of colleges, and certainly no employers or parents. Now, not only has it opened to non-college students, but those who joined as undergrads have gone on to be working professionals and even employers themselves. It's just too easy to look someone up on Facebook. With a couple clicks you can get an idea about a person's social life, how they carry themselves, how others perceive them, and even how they want to be perceived. People fill out their own "about me" section, and it seems fair game to use that to get an idea about a job candidate.

The most dangerous aspect of these websites, and technology in general, are digital pictures that are taken everywhere. When my generation starts running for office in about ten years, there will be a change in perception and standards for acceptance of our political leaders.

First, voters will become more forgiving of politicians who had crazy college days, because there will be photographic proof and it will be made public. Secondly, pictures of leaders acting inappropriately will lose their potency. People won't be as outraged, because it will be all too common.

If a picture surfaced today of, say, Bill Frist doing a kegstand, people would be outraged. In ten years, I predict that it won't be perceived as that offensive. Maybe perceiving politicians as more human will make politics more interesting.

The MSN article also contains some positive statistics:

"Hiring managers said the following information discovered on the Web helped to confirm their decision to hire a candidate:

-Background information that supported the candidate's professional qualifications (64%)
-A wide range of interests that made the candidate appear well-rounded (40%)
-Great communication skills (34%)
-A professional image (31%)
-Signs that the candidate would be a good personality fit for the company culture (31%)"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article, it was very interesting. I would like to point out that not just "anyone" can see your profile on facebook. You have to be in someone's network (ie school, company, city) or be friends with someone in order to see their profile. It's also very easy to set your account to private so that only your friends can see it. Recently I heard a computer scientist who does research on online social communities talk, and he said that facebook is incredibly private- they won't release any information to researchers about social connections, even without names attached.