Facebook impacts hiring decisions

by Katie AnthonyStaff Writer

As the number of Facebook users continues to grow, the number of employers relying on Facebook for information about their employees will continue to grow as well.

Not only will this effect those already employed, but students looking for internships throughout their college career and seniors looking for jobs before graduation will ultimately be affected by the growth of employers on Facebook.

Vault.com conducted a study on employers and social networking sites. Results showed that out of 700 employers, 44 percent are using a form of social networking sites amongst employees.

Adam Wilson, group editor of the Des Moines Register Central Iowa Weeklies, is one employer who sees the benefits of the social media network. Wilson has yet to join the Facebook network, but he does use the Internet to check on prospective employees.

“As somewhat of a private person, I’ve made the decision not to create a Facebook page, so it makes it somewhat difficult for me specifically to look people up on Facebook or other similar sites,” Wilson said. “But we certainly Google prospective interns or potential new hires and check social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace before we finalize any plans. Enough folks at my papers have accounts on those sites that it makes it pretty easy to get a look at someone’s page. If a person keeps a site full of inappropriate material, it sure isn’t going to win them any points.”

Though students know that there are employers out there looking at Facebook pages, some don’t worry about the content that’s out there.

“When I apply for an internship, I’m not going to worry about what’s on my Facebook,” freshman Allie Walker said. “There isn’t anything that I would be ashamed of a possible employer seeing, and I don’t have that much private information on it.”

Freshman Tim Kunze disagrees with Walker.

“I would definitely worry about what could be on my Facebook when I start applying for internships,” Kunze said. “There could be anything from embarrassing or misleading information on my Facebook, or something that would make me look irresponsible.”

While some would argue that by checking Facebook, employers are invading privacy, Wilson disagrees.

“Our employees understand that they represent our company whether they’re on the clock or off,” Wilson said. “If something inappropriate were to appear on one of their Web pages, or blogs, or Tweets, or any other Web outlet, they should expect me to question them about it. Yes, it’s their personal life, but as soon as they put something online it becomes very much public.”

Wilson admits that with the growth of social networks, he believes he’ll eventually end up getting a Facebook page.

“At some point in the future I’ll probably break down and join Facebook just because it’s a tool that, if used correctly and wisely, can help me do my job better,” Wilson said. “In the past few years, I’ve had reporters write features on people living across the globe – from Spain to Australia – and each time they’ve located the person on Facebook and done an online interview that otherwise may have been impossible.”