The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

The Office Snitch: The fate of my professionalism seems out of my control

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As we all probably know by now, I have a love-hate relationship with my Facebook account.

On one hand, there is no doubt Facebook is one of the biggest threads tying my social life together. Even as I’m writing this article, I am (and please don’t tell my boss) catching up with an old friend who has moved back to Canada, tracking the development of a story on a company’s news feed and checking out photos of a party I missed last night.

But on the flip side of that, Facebook has opened up an entire world that I am sometimes uncomfortable sharing with those outside my close circle of friends. That said, I did panic a little bit when I came across an article last night which revealed employers place a lot of weight on the comments left under profile photos when trying to get a better understanding of a candidate they are stalking – oops I mean – doing a background check on.

The study by the University of Missouri found those comments are one of the biggest indicators of your social status, so unless you’re spending your free time moderating comments left by your peers, you’ve pretty much left everything in their hands.

The research found, unsurprisingly, those with positive comments on their profile photos were perceived to be more socially and physically attractive, The Daily Mail reported, fueling human’s tendencies to believe opinions from others more than “self-generated information when forming impressions”.

“Thus, for social networking users concerned about forming a desired impression, being aware of other-generated information about oneself is paramount in the goal of achieving a positive self-presentation,” Seoyeon Hong, one of the  doctoral students who conducted the study, said.

It’s no secret employers have taken to the online streets when researching potential employees (although some have gone slightly overboard). Hence, it once again brings up the question of how much is really too much when one goes online.

Bianca Bueno, talent management consultant for the entire WPP family here in APAC, agrees information found on Facebook profiles are valuable to people like her when sourcing candidates. “A few snippets are more telling than a rehearsed answer to my questions,” she says.

“It’s like that old saying, ‘It’s not what they say about you, it’s what they whisper’.”

Did I immediately log onto Facebook and reread every single comment that’s been left on my profile photos since 27 September 2007? Yes. Did I do a bit of housekeeping? Yes.

My easiest solution to all this is to put my Facebook page on tight security lock down, making it accessible to no one outside my direct acquaintance circle. You know, just in case something unfavourable slips out.

Michael Wright, who heads up the talent acquisition team for GroupM in the region, is quick to agree with me, adding it’s not a bad idea to set high privacy settings because a clear distinction is needed between one’s professional and personal lives.

“I don’t believe it is a sound HR practice to take Facebook as a reference point for candidate’s ability to do a job,” he adds.

Fair point. Just to be on the safe side, I’m still putting everything on extra high privacy settings, but let me know your two cents on this. How public are you online, and do you really take into account comments posted on a candidate’s profile when listing out the pros and cons of the hire?

Leave a note here, or tweet us at @Mag_HR. Enjoy the weekend, I know I will – but I’ll definitely be avoiding taking comprising photos that might make it to your refreshed news feed. Cheers!

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

September 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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