Employer asks interviewee for Facebook page, but many see it as an invasion of privacy

Oct 15th, 2017

If you're one of the final few in line for a job, chances are your prospective employer has already checked you out on Facebook.

So is there anything wrong with them asking for a link to your page up front?

That was the dilemma faced by former Sunshine Coast resident Meegan Evans, who upon applying for the position of a nanny and housekeeper in Melbourne, was asked by the employer to share a link to her Facebook page.

Ms Evans said she had supplied a resume and a list of references for the position, thinking it would be enough.

"Initially I was quite shocked by their request as I thought it was incredibly invasive," she said.
"I have always liked to keep my personal life and work life very separate and I should be allowed to do so without being questioned about my decision.

"I also think that people can easily be misjudged over social media and because of this I think that having references and a police check is a far better indicator of whether or not somebody will be suitable for a role.

"For all I cared, they could have installed cameras and watched my every move, but what I do outside of work is none of their business."

Hays Specialist Recruitment Queensland managing director Darren Buchanan said the exchange did not totally surprise him.

"It does occur out in the job market, [but] I don't think it's that prevalent yet," he said.

"I think what's more prevalent is people looking at a potential employee's Facebook page, but I don't think it's that common for people to actually ask for it yet.

"But it's quite possible that will emerge and become a more common practice.

"I think employers have to be quite careful, very careful when they're asking that one."

Mr Buchanan said sharing a Facebook page could work either for or against the potential employee.

"The positive could be that if you have an employer looking to see if you're a cultural match to your business, then your Facebook page might potentially help with that," he said.

Cleaning up your Facebook

  • Make sure you have a professional picture for both your profile and cover photo
  • Check your Privacy
  • Hide All Albums
  • Check Your "Likes"
  • You'll also want to view your profile from every type of setting – friend, friend of friend, and "not friend" to see what they see. If anything unprofessional shows up, hide it or delete it.
"It can work against you if there's posts in there you may not put you in a favourable light.

"If someone turns around and says they haven't employed you because of your Facebook page that opens a whole can of worms around potential discrimination."

Mr Buchanan said it was worth casting an eye over your Facebook page before applying for work.

"I don't think enough people think about the consequences or how it might impact their opportunities for employment," he said.

What does the law say?

There is no law that prevents a prospective employer from asking a jobseeker to see their social media pages, Shine Lawyers employment law expert Will Barsby says

"It demonstrates the power of social media as almost a pre-job screening process but there is no law that prevents a prospective employer from asking for that information," Mr Barsby said.

"There is certainly a blurring of the lines between personal and work life these days."

He said those already employed should be careful with how they mention work on social media.

"Most employment contracts now have social media clauses saying you can't bring a company into disrepute on Facebook and other platforms," he said.

"You need to be very careful if you list your employment on your profile that your posts aren't used as a weapon against you as grounds for dismissal." There are laws that prohibit discrimination against people for protected attributes like their gender, race, sexual orientation, religious or political views, which are things you may post about on social media.

"However, when you are applying for work you do need to have evidence that you didn't get the job because of what the potential employer saw on Facebook. That can be difficult to prove."

ABC News Patrick Williams 10/10/2017

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