Social Media, Millennials, and The Job Market: Prospective Employers Use Of Facebook to Screen Applicants
As of May 2015, 35% of the United States workforce is made up of Millennials. Millennials now make up the largest percentage of the workforce. The vast majority of Millennials have some form of social media which includes, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and etc. Millennials have definitely used Facebook to like, share, and comment on personal, political, and racial issues. Many do so not realizing that when they choose to express their full, unedited, and or non-politically correct opinions that a prospective employer may use it to screen them out of hiring them for a position. Below is more information regarding prospective employers’ ability to use Facebook to screen potential applicants.
1. Can Prospective Employers Use Facebook As A Reason Not To Hire An Applicant?
Generally, yes prospective employers can use information gathered through Facebook as a reason not to hire a applicant. Facebook can be used almost like a background check. It can give employers a idea of the type of person they are and whether they have intangible aspects that would or would not be a contribution to the potential employer. But, potential employers cannot use information retrieved from Facebook as a reason not to hire a applicant because they are a member of a protected class (race, age, sex, disability, pregnancy, national origin, and religion). An example of this would be a employer choosing not to hire a applicant because they commented on a controversial subject such as “Black Lives Matters” or gay marriage which may suggest that the applicant is a member of a protected class.
2. Can An Applicant Protect Their Facebook From Prospective Employers’ Screening?
Generally, yes. Even though an employer has the right to search the Facebook profiles of applicants which are public. A simple solution for applicants to protect their Facebook from prospective employers is changing their privacy settings on their profiles so that it cannot be viewed by the public. Potential employers cannot create false profiles to mislead applicants into allowing them access to their Facebook profiles.
But, if a prospective employer requires you to give authorization for them to view your Facebook profile you can do the following:
- Un-tag your name from pictures that are not flattering. Your picture with you and your frat brother doing a keg stand maybe a picture you want to take down;
- Remove any status that is TMI. That status when you explained to your family and friends on how you may have cut your ex-boyfriend’s bike tires because he cheated on you with your sister you may want to take down.
- Keep your Facebook name your real name… Maria “IWokeUpLikeThis” Jackson may not be what you want a potential employer to see.
- Just use common sense
3. Can Potential Employers Take Actions To Ensure That Their Facebook Screening of Applicants Are Not Discriminatory In Nature.
Of course there are actions potential employers can take to ensure that their Facebook practices of screening applicants are not discriminatory in nature such as:
- Creating internal procedures for screening applicants based on social media to avoid discriminatory practices that would violate federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
- Always get permission from all applicants authorizing the potential employers to perform background checks including Facebook during the hiring process.
- Conditional Offers of Employment. Offer employment to applicants on the condition that they pass a background check and or Facebook screening process.