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A recent article posted on the Minneapolis Star Tribune website (http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/143455776.html), reported that employers are now asking job applicants to share their Facebook password. Legislators and legal professionals are collectively opposed to this practice and are discouraging employers from asking job applicants for their Facebook or other social media passwords. Not only do they argue it should be illegal, but they remain adamant that it an invasion of privacy.
The question is, what would you do in an interview or job application process if you were asked for your Facebook or social media passwords? Here are a few tips we would suggest using if ever you find yourself in this situation.
1. Approach this request similarly to the way you would respond to an illegal interview question (i.e. nationality, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religion, physical or mental disabilities, health history, etc.). Here are a few options:
- Provide the answer and move on (note: anything you disclose in an interview can be considered by the employer when assessing your candidacy/fit for the position).
- Ignore the question and re-direct the conversation. (note: this might be a good opportunity to refer them to your LinkedIn profile site instead…if you are comfortable sharing it of course).
- Ask about the relevance of the question as it pertains to the position for which you are interviewing. Inform them you are not comfortable answering the question if not relevant.
- You can simply reply that you prefer not to answer the question.
- If you feel the interviewer(s) are being blatantly discriminatory against you, you have the right to walk away.
2. One of the common misconceptions about interviewing is that the interviewee (the applicant) does not always realize that the interview process is a two-way street. Remember, you are interviewing the employer as well. When interviewing the employer, your goal is to determine whether or not you see yourself fitting into their organizational culture and the potential for your future success. Thus, if an employer asks you for your password to any social media site, including Facebook, you have to ask yourself one question – am I comfortable working for an organization that asks for such information?
3. However, in some cases it may be necessary or common for an employer to ask for password information. For instance, when federal government agencies such as the CIA, FBI, or Department of Homeland Security conduct background checks on applicants, these investigations are extensive and result in them researching everything they can about who you were and who you are now. Believe it or not, they will even investigate as far back as when you were a child; thus, you can bet they will also seek access to your online communications (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc.). There still exists a debate whether or not this is appropriate or not. As depicted in the aforementioned article, several state agencies (mainly public service agencies such as police departments) are implementing the same type of background check and asking applicants for their passwords.
4. Finally, it is important to not do anything that you feel violates your own ethics or value system, even in a job interview. While we certainly understand the importance of finding employment, we do not encourage sacrificing your image, reputation, and/or private information just to land a paycheck. Strong self-awareness, confidence and willingness to stand up for your own values are the foundation for successful career development.
Are you wondering why everyone in the professional world is so agog over LinkedIn? If you’ve been avoiding LinkedIn because you think it’s probably just a more boring version of Facebook, you’re missing out. This professional networking site has become a very powerful tool for job candidates who want to increase their visibility and showcase their best qualities.
1. Update Your Status ASAP
If people know you are job hunting, they are often happy to help you out. When you post to let your network know about your job search, put a positive spin on it. For example, “I’m starting on my job searchtoday. The years I spent at (name of previous company) have prepared me well to advance my career through this transition. I’m excited to see what’s available on the job market. If you know of anyone who’s looking for a (name your job title) with (name a couple of your top skills), let me know!”
2. Get Relevant Recommendations
Former managers, direct reports, coworkers, clients, and vendors can be great sources for recommendations on LinkedIn. When recruiters view your profile, they are very interested in what other people are saying about you. Don’t spam your network with requests for recommendations. Instead, ask about a dozen people who have worked closely with you to post feedback that is specific and focuses on both your character and your job skills.
3. Find Out Who You Know
Use LinkedIn to get the inside scoop. Run a search on LinkedIn for a prospective employer’s company name cross referenced with the name of your high school, any colleges you’ve attended, and your past workplaces. That way, you can pull up anyone you know who is or has been involved with a prospective employer. You can pump them for information about the company’s culture and how they were successful in getting a job there. It’s even better if they know the recruiter or someone else in the hiring decision-making chain. Friends of friends may also be able to hook you up with an inside connection.
4. Use the Job Search Function to Boost Your SEO
Finding posted jobs is only one of the reasons to spend time browsing the job search area of LinkedIn. This is where you will find out what skills recruiters in your industry are looking for. These are the keywords you will need to add to your LinkedIn summary and your resume so recruiters who are looking for jobs that aren’t posted can easily find you. For those that don’t know, SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.”
5. Do Unto Others
Stay on the lookout for ways to assist people in your network in their job searches as well. The more you give, the more you get back on LinkedIn. For example, if you become active in a professional group geared toward your area of expertise on LinkedIn and start sharing your job search tips, you stay at the top of people’s minds when they become aware of a job that would be right for you. When you post helpful advice online, it also makes you look like a team player in the eyes of recruiters.
In April 2011, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a SHRM Staffing Research Survey: “Social Networking Websites and Staffing.” A sample of HR professionals were randomly selected from SHRM’s membership database, which included approximately 250,000 individual members at the time the poll was conducted. The sample was composed of members with the job function of recruiting/staffing. For this analysis, 541 responses were used, yielding a response rate of 18%. The margin of error for this poll was +/- 4%. In hopes of creating a stronger comparison, the results of the survey were compared to a 2008 SHRM Research Survey: “Online Technologies and Their Impact on Recruitment Strategies.”
What Did They Define as Social Media?
SHRM defined social media as any type of virtual interpersonal communication or media that included social interaction; media that transforms people from content consumers to content producers. It also included various forms of user-generated content and the collection of websites and applications that enable persons to interact online; such as LinkedIn; Facebook; Twitter.
More than one-half (56%) of the organizations currently use social networking websites when recruiting potential job candidates. This is a significant increase since 2008, when a little over one-third (34%) of organizations were using these sites as a recruiting tool.
Among organizations that used social networking sites for recruiting, the most utilized social networking website in 2011 was LinkedIn (95%). This was followed by Facebook (58%) and Twitter (42%).
The percentage of respondents who believe that social networking websites are efficient for recruiting nonmanagement, management and executive-level employees has increased significantly since 2008. One respondent mentioned, “Social networking websites allow an employer the opportunity to gather initial information about a job candidate before a single word has been exchanged.”
When asked the top reasons they are using social networking websites for staffing, 84% of the organizations indicated they are using social networking websites to recruit passive job candidates who might not otherwise apply or be contacted by the organization (69% in 2008). In addition, 67% of the organizations reported that they use social networking websites because it is less expensive than other methods of recruiting candidates, while 60% also reported that they use these sites to increase their organization brand and recognition.
For more on this data, visit the 2011 SHRM Research Survey.