So you want to apply for this job? Hand in all your account log-in and password information

A lot of people are out of work and looking for a job. Even more people belong to various social sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. See the connection yet? No, OK, I’ll explain…

Bozeman City, Montana has added a section to their application process for anyone applying for a job with the city: job applicants must provide log-in information and passwords for social network sites in which they participate. The requirement is included on a waiver statement applicants must sign, giving the City permission to conduct an investigation into the person’s “background, references, character, past employment, education, credit history, criminal or police records.”

I’ve heard of potential employers conducting Google searches, or police records, or even credit scores for potential employees, but does having to hand in  your personal log-in information and passwords cross the line? I think so. Granted, more and more people are learning not to post anything that could cause them troubles at work on the internet. No matter how much you try, they will surface, just ask anyone of these people. But there is a lot of other information that can be posted on sites like Facebook, which to no fault of your own can cause you to lose that position you are going for. It could have happened to me.

When I started at Caster, I was a mere 20 years old, simply because I went through my BA program in three years. Since potential employers aren’t allowed to ask your age (unless a certain age is required, i.e. serving alcohol, driving, etc), Caster didn’t find out how old I was until after my hiring. It’s not like I was trying to hide it, it just never came up. Since part of our job includes events, there are often situations where alcohol is being served or offered, potentially this means I would not have been allowed to attend events where liquor was being served in an open-bar style, which also meant Caster would have had a reason not to hire me. It might not have been worth the legal trouble of ensuring that I wouldn’t put the company or their  reputation on the line by consuming alcohol before I turned 21. Obviously I would have never done that at a work related function, but there was a risk (so much that I had to sign legal documents stating I wouldn’t consumer alcohol illegally, and if I did, Caster waived all responsibility). Had Caster been able to see my Facebook page, which has my date of birth, I might not be here blogging to you today. 

But I digress. The real story here is how far is too far? I understand employers want the cream of the crop; someone who they don’t believe will embarrass their organization by having racy photos of themselves plastered all over the web. But these sites are social networking, emphasis on the social. If on my own time, I go out with friends for a few drinks and post the pictures, why should that be a factor for getting hired? What about your friend’s wedding? You know what I mean. There are always questionable photos taken at weddings. What if they are posted to a friend’s page where you are tagged? They will still show up during a search. What then? If this becomes the case, millions of people are going to start deleting their social networking pages and call it a day. This doesn’t seem plausible, especially in today’s age where social media knowledge is often a job requirement.

There are two points to this story for me:

1)     I believe that potential, or even current employers don’t have the right to ask for you log in and password information to these sights. If they want to search your name, go ahead, but most of us have our profiles on “private” (if you don’t, I suggest you do that now) so the amount of information you will see is minimal

2)     DON’T POST COMPROMISING PICTURES OF YOURSELF ANYWHERE ON THE INTERNET! It will not end well for you.

OK, so there’s a lot to go through with this story, but it outrages me to know that this is becoming acceptable. If the economy was better and there were more jobs than seekers, would this fly? If a potential employer had asked me to hand over all my account information, I would simply say “Thanks, but no thanks”. Not because I have anything to hide (go ahead, Google me). I just wouldn’t want to work for an organization like that.

Posted by: Lauren

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