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Is Facebook Preventing You From Getting Hired?

May 6, 2014

As almost everyone who has a Facebook account knows, the invention of social media truly has changed the game for how people stay in touch with one another. The ability to have a look into the lives of nearly everyone you’ve known during your whole entire existence could literally happen in the click of your finger and the scroll of your feed. Crazy when you really think about it!

480534553For years now, Facebook has provided benefits to its users on multiple levels: ease of accessibility, communication, news, shopping, etc. Over the past few years, social media sites have joined the Facebook craze (better yet, addiction) by making the site an active recruiting source, acting as an advantage to recruiters and job seekers. A recruiting survey conducted by Social Jobs Partnership and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in the Spring of 2012 surveyed over 500 employers/recruiters and found that about half of employers are “using Facebook in their hiring processes”, and that recruiters are predicting more importance being placed on using social networks in talent acquisition. In fact, time.com released an article in the summer of 2012 focusing on social media recruiting findings from a survey which polled over 1000 companies. This survey found that 92% of the companies polled plan to use social media as a recruiting source, and that 73% of recruiters will look at candidate’s social media pages (e.g., Facebook and Twitter), even when candidate’s do not supply this information to recruiters. These numbers are still increasing.

What does this mean for us Facebookers? It means that your Facebook page could either be helping you or hurting you when it comes to getting hired! Although many recruiters are not hiring directly from Facebook and using the site more so to make connections and advertise their company or positions, the statistics presented here do show that recruiters are looking at YOUR facebook content. Take a minute to think about your own Facebook page and how it portrays you as a job seeker. What kind of information are you sharing with the world? Are you one of those Facebookers who over-shares? Are your scandalous thoughts and images constantly on your page, and for anyone to see? Do you ever foresee yourself holding a fulltime job, or working in corporate America? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should seriously consider taking some time to analyze your Facebook profile!

Content that was found in the survey reported by time.com to be perceived negatively by recruiters such as illegal drugs, sexually suggestive posts, poor grammar, and alcohol consumption should make sense to most. But does posting socially inappropriate content really mean anything about whether or not you are a good or bad candidate? A scientific study conducted in 2010 examining personality traits and the likelihood of college students to post “faux pas” on Facebook suggests that students who are highly conscientious, agreeable, and emotionally stable were less likely to post scandalous content on Facebook, and students who scored high on compulsive internet use were more likely to report posting scandalous information.  With more validation and evidence, news like this to employers and recruiters is even more encouragement to make or break a cold call, phone screen, interview, etc., especially if your Facebook page is full of suggestive and problematic posts and tags.

On the employer side, note that although statistics show that recruiters are using social media as a part of the hiring process, it does not mean that they should be using a candidate’s Facebook profile to make hiring decisions. Using a fair, effective, consistent, and legally defensible tool like an assessment is a much better and safer decision in the long run. Using your own, subjective judgment of a candidate’s personality and working ability by checking a candidate’s Facebook page for posts, photos, and tags could potentially open up a can of money-eating legal worms that no company wants. Therefore, it’s important that recruiters use social media tools with discretion and not as a decision point in the hiring process.  For a recap of Select International’s perspective on why social media cannot replace employee assessments, click here.

By now, the importance of keeping your Facebook page clean and recruiter friendly should be more clear.  If you still have the urge to post the good, the bad, and the ugly on your Facebook, at least make sure your profile is protected. If neither of these suggestions seem to suit you, buy yourself a diary and post your thoughts and pictures in there. Trust me, your future and your Facebook friends will thank you for this!


            all employee assessment alike        





Karl, K., Peluchette, J., and Schlaegel, C. (2010). Who’s posting Facebook faux pas? A cross-cultural examination of personality differences. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18, 174-186.

Lindsey Burke Lindsey Burke is a Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She is largely responsible for client support and managing clients in industries including manufacturing, sales, and healthcare. Lindsey completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Xavier University and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Psychology from Kent State University.