There’s a story on chron.com today (that I think was actually written by someone in the paper’s employ – I didn’t know they still had writers on staff) about prospective employers googling prospective employees and checking out their facebook profiles prior to making them a job offer. After reading the headline but before reading the story, I was thinking that anyone who is interviewing for a job should be bright enough to know how to hide their facebook profile from people who aren’t their “friends.” Then I remembered that facebook keeps changing their privacy rules, and things that you think are private sometimes end up not being so through no fault of your own. Still, it’s probably in one’s best interest to not put up pictures of yourself with a red ball gag in your mouth or doing a keg stand. Not because of job shopping, just in general.
All this to say, I was sort of on the side of the potential employer at the start. Then I read this quote:
Some of the finds have been amazing, he said. One was a swinger whose site included some indelicate information about his multiple partners, while another was a “left-wing, crazy tree-hugger guy” whose personal website focused on corporate greed and corporate pollution.
Huh. The swinger thing is kind of gross. And posting stuff online about one’s sex life probably doesn’t show the best judgment. But the “left-wing, crazy tree-hugger guy” is a bit more bothersome. Any person in a position to hire people should be aware that, other than those at the top who are making all of the money, most workaday folks think things like greed and pollution are BAD. So not giving this “crazy tree-hugger guy” a job that he must have been qualified for or they wouldn’t have been googling him in the first place is bullshit. (Unless the job was VP of Greed and Pollution, a position that I am starting to believe does exist at most large corporations. Then they have a case.) It puts too much power into the hands of the interviewer if they can dismiss a candidate based upon their politics or personal interests rather than their professional qualifications.
Just because you can’t find anything incriminating or otherwise inflammatory about someone online doesn’t mean that there aren’t incriminating or otherwise inflammatory aspects to their character (see: any politician legislating against gay marriage who is later found in an airport bathroom tapping his way into another man’s pants or coming back from a tropical vacation with a hired “baggage handler”). The tubes of the internet aren’t going anywhere any time soon (at least, not until December 21, 2012), so we’re going to have to find a way to work together in this new world of information overload. I’m not deleting my 700+ blog posts just because a potential employer might not like the fact that I use the word “fuck” on a regular basis. Fuck ’em, fucking babies.
Of course, if I’m filling a position and see that someone reads an author I don’t respect or has kitten pictures on their facebook profile, I’m not hiring them. You have to have some limitations.