Would you hand over your Facebook password for a job?
An Associated Press story on Tuesday reignited this debate that started three years ago when the city of Bozeman, Mont., asked job applicants to provide usernames
and passwords for their social media accounts.
Ultimately, Bozeman officials abandoned the practice, but many organizations have picked up where the Montana city left off.
According to the AP
“As the job market steadily improves, other job candidates are confronting the same question from prospective employers, and some of them cannot afford to say no.
“In their efforts to vet applicants, some companies and government agencies are going beyond merely glancing at a person’s social networking profiles and instead asking to log in as the user to have a look around.”
On social media sites such as Twitter, the overwhelming response to this hot-button debate is “hell no,” with people calling the request “ridiculous
” and “shameful
“If a company asks you to provide them access to your Twitter and Facebook password tell them to take a flying leap off the nearest bridge,” said a tweet from MediaJobSearchCanada
Many bloggers in the human resources community are also opposed to the practice.
Suzanne Lucas, of the popular Evil HR Lady blog, said “absolutely not
” should job applicants be required to hand over their passwords.
(Lucas is on vacation and hasn’t weighed in on the current fracas, although she offered her thoughts on the topic in February.)
In a post on Canadian HR Reporter
, Managing Editor Todd Humber admits there are advantages to using social media for background checks, but they’re probably not worth the potential hassle.
“It turns off job candidates. It exposes the employer to legal risk. And it’s no substitute for good old-fashioned recruitment methods—sitting down and talking at length with the candidate about the job.
“Background checks are a critical part of the hiring process. Criminal checks, verifying education credentials, contacting references and credit checks are all appropriate tools in the recruitment toolbox. And yes, even using social media can be appropriate. But asking employees to hand over usernames and passwords? That’s a practice employers should unfriend immediately.”
Despite the outcry, the reality remains that many employers—particularly those in the public sector—continue to demand social networking passwords. And in a similar, though less egregious move, many private employers are using third-party apps to scour job candidates Facebook pages, reports the AP.
One of the companies using these third-party apps is Sears, which told the AP that the tool enables the company to be updated on a candidate’s work history.
Would you allow a potential employer to access your Facebook or Twitter account? What if you were interviewing for your dream job?