I loved this juicy parable about a manager dealing with the repercussions of an “open yer Facebook” hiring policy. So did a lot of other people: The post got 500K+ hits soon after its author published it, thanks to Reddit. At least some of those readers took it to be real, including me before I took a close look at it – a testament to multitasking’s marijuana-level IQ-effect. (Too bad he didn’t post it on April Fool’s Day. I’d guess that the people who on April 2 felt duped would have given the guy props for a clever prank had he put it up a day earlier.)
The idea of companies asking job applicants to show their (Facebook) privates is horrifying, yes. But is it really happening? In all the reporting, I’ve only seen a couple of documented cases – this recent statistician in Seattle and last year, a Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services employee (his story can be found at that same link). I guess it’s not that hard to imagine hand-wringing, ham-fisted HR folks sending out FB requests – still, I’d like to see numbers before I’m going to really worry that this is becoming common practice. Personally, as someone who hires staff, I would never ask for FB access. (I am friends on FB with employees, but when they’re my friends, and not before.)
Here’s my advice. If an interviewer asks you if he or she can shoulder surf, or if an HR rep who’s not yet your real-life friend sends a request, politely decline – unless it’s already your practice to share your private FB with people who you don’t know. But even then, beware: If company leadership isn’t willing to risk trusting a new employee to conduct his private life appropriately, chances are they’re not going to respect the rules of good relationships down the road, either.
No matter how good the job may seem on paper, having the courage to say “no” to unwarranted intrusions on your privacy will save you from a lot of strife.
What do you think: Would you say no? Should you say no?