As most of you know, there has been some controversy lately over companies trying to incorporate Facebook into their screening process. They are going about it in a few different ways:
- Asking you to provide them with your password so they can log into your account
- Asking you to log them in so they can “look around”
- Asking you to “Friend” someone in HR so they can see what you have blocked to the public
The key to handling these requests is simple: Just say, “No!” There is no reason for companies to view your Facebook profile. It has no relevance to your employment.
The companies that are requesting to view your Facebook profile are over-stepping their boundaries. They don’t have the right to see that information, and states are beginning to put legislation in place to make it official. This week, it was announced that Maryland is the first state to ban companies from asking for employee Facebook passwords. California and Illinois are also considering taking action. The fact that states are going as far as to write laws against this is telling as to how inappropriate the action is.
What you do in your free time (or what you did during college, which is where the majority of Facebook action happens) is your own business and is not the concern of the company whatsoever. Your personal life (in most cases) does not have an effect on your work – which should be what companies are focused on. They should be more concerned with reviewing your LinkedIn profile and your resume, as well as checking your references to find out what kind of employee you are rather than checking to see what you did last weekend.
The only aspects the company should be focused on is what kind of employee you are, whether or not you would be a fit for the job you are interviewing for, and whether you would be a good fit for the culture and team. This can be accomplished effectively enough via a thorough interview process.
The key is to keep your professional and personal social networks separate. There are obvious exceptions depending on what line of work you are in, but for the most part, Facebook is for staying in touch and keeping up with your friends and family, while LinkedIn should be used for your job search, networking, and connecting with current and former colleagues.
It is my personal preference to keep these two social platforms very separate. I am not connected with many friends on LinkedIn (not by choice – by happening), and I tend not to “friend” co-workers on FaceBook unless we have some sort of relationship outside of work. I do my best to keep them separate, but every person has their own preference as to how they handle it.