Persuasive Research Essay
MySpace and Facebook are two of the most visited sites on the internet. With more than 95 million members MySpace has become the most popular social networking sites in the world (Hanisko) and Facebook is not far behind with 19 million members (Jones). Social networking and blogging have become a fad of the 21st century. Most adults and teens have profiles on a networking site or a site of their own. Employers have found these sites to be useful in the process of selecting candidates for interviews. However, some individuals find this process to be unethical. As the law stands all information posted on social networking sites is in the public domain (Fudge). This means that anything you put online can be accessed by anyone, including employers. Based on law and laws of common sense employers should be able to look up job hunters on the internet.
The conflict arises when other laws are taken into consideration as well. For example employers cannot make decisions based on gender or race (Fudge), but these items are plainly displayed on the front page of most social networking profiles. If there is any chance that these items will alter an employers point of view laws may be infringed even if the change of opinion is subconscious. The two main laws of concern are equal opportunity law and privacy law. Under laws requiring equal opportunity companies must include all protected classes in their recruiting, selection and performance-management efforts. There are two types of discrimination under equal opportunity laws, direct and indirect. Direct has to deal with race, gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation. All of this information is normally found on information boxes or can be inferred from comments or pictures. Indirect, however, happens inadvertently. Often times it occurs when employers select candidates from a smaller pool of people. For example only hiring people who have a social network profile because you feel more comfortable with the extra information. Privacy laws, on the other hand, are intentionally broken more often. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires people to get explicit consent to do background and credit checks (Kowske).
Incorrect information is often an issue that many are worried about. Companies need to check with applicants to make sure they do not dismiss applicants based on information found about someone with the same name or similar information. This is a rare occurrence and can be easily avoided by the company. “Recent surveys have indicated that over 26% of hiring managers have used internet search engines to research prospective employees; while about 12% say they have used social networking sites” (Jones).
“Over half of the applicants found on search engines and nearly two-thirds of the applicants found on social networking sites were not hired as a result of the information found” (Witham). There is almost no way to tell if these decisions were based on valid and lawful information or not. However, if the applicants knew their profiles were working as advertisements they may have posted differently.
Most issues with job screening could be easily avoided by knowing the facts. According to the Peer Educator, Reviewing Your Online Identity states that you should check your profile for, “anything that has the potential to hinder your ability to take on future academic, extracurricular or career opportunities” (Currie) Often using a semi professional screen name will please picky searchers; 8 percent of potential employees were rejected because their screen names were unprofessional (Hanisko).
Companies are normally pretty careful in their grounds for dismissing applicants for the job. No company wants to be known as the guys who wont hire based on internet information. It would be a public relations nightmare (Kowske). Companies are aware of equal opportunity and privacy laws so they try not to infringe upon them. One way to avoid this is to be mindful of the laws and to be open with the candidate about the processes being conducted. An employer would be within their rights to take a dim view of a candidate who has posted discriminatory jokes and inappropriate pictures online on the grounds of the occurrence of the jokes or actions occurring in the workplace (Fudge). This example shows the benefits of searching social networks. It can help companies avoid lawsuits within the company.
Nic Romero, talent specialist for North Star Recourse Group, said, “by no means would information (positive or negative) found on the internet make or break my decision.” She also commented that, “the candidate’s MySpace page can also give great background information as to who this person really is and what kind of friends they have” (Hanisko). Most employers are not out to find trash on candidates. They are looking for good candidates for the job. Joan Gallagher, Career Counselor for Loyola University, said, “Most employers I have spoken with cannot afford the time to go ’sleuthing’ on the internet. But in some cases, especially where one’s character is an area of utmost concern for employers, this may be useful in gaining a window into a side of the candidate that would otherwise be unknown.” (Hanisko). Another university councilor, L. Mauro of Millersville University of Pennsylvania said, “anyone who puts questionable pictures, info, and/or quotes on their site are foolish to think that what they do on their own time wont affect their business life” (Hanisko). Most students now understand that anything they put online can be seen by anyone. In high school many worried about their parents finding their sites and now they need to worry about what employers might see.
Mr. Vance, of Georgia Collage, said, “Networks are a real good idea, but students haven’t thought through how they use them. They need to start thinking about the long-term ramifications of what they’re putting online today” (Read). Professor Preston Parker, here at Utah State, advises his Jcom students to have blogs and social network profiles to advertise themselves. He believes that keeping up to date profiles that show your accomplishments and highlight you are as helpful in the job application process as a good resume.
In a recent survey 47 percent of college graduate job seekers who use social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook have either already changed or plan to change the content of their pages as a result of job searching (Hanisko). Brian Krueger, president of CollageGrad.com said, “entry level job seekers who use Myspace and Facebook should update their pages to reflect their job search image.” His colleague Steven Jungman, Division Director of ChaseSourse, LP advises young adults to realize that the, “World Wide Web is exactly that and personal information is just a mouse click away.” Krueger followed this saying, “like it or not, MySpace and Facebook are public sites. Instead of posting information and photos from that all night party, job seekers can stand out from the crowd by using their sites as an opportunity to generate a positive first impression. If you wouldn’t put it in your resume, don’t put it on the web” (Hanisko).
Information on the internet is convenient. From the time we are children we are told to not always believe what you read, bolgs and profiles are not different. However, the responsibility cannot be left to the employer. If you do not want information to be obtained by others do not post it in the public domain. Profiles can work as advertisements for job hunters as well as they can hinder them. Stand out by having a professional profile, including accomplishments and post recent works that employers would be interested in. Use them to your advantage turn MysSpace and Facebook into YourFace.