Study: Facebook Could Cost You Your Next Job

It's been suggested that what you post about yourself on Facebook and other social media sites could torpedo your job application. Now a, in-depth study of employers from six different industries confirms it.

The study reveals that many employers are using the Facebook profiles of job candidates to filter out weaker applicants based on perception of lifestyle, attitudes and personal appearance. In other words, it could keep you from making the final cut.

Facebook now has more than 800 million members world-wide and has become one of the most popular sites for staying in touch with family and friends. People engage in give and take, often making off-color comments or expressing strong political views. It's all out there for a potential employer to see.

The researchers from Florida International University suggest that employers using Facebook to assess those applying for a job with them are creating a new digital divide, as well as revealing how freedom with regard to virtual identity is being encroached upon increasingly by the world of work.

"While employers are using Facebook to monitor their employees, they have also begun to use it as a screening tool when considering potential candidates," said researcher Vanessa de la Llama and colleagues. "Because this is a fairly new trend, a standardized set of guidelines has yet to be established, with employers often assessing job applicants in a subjective manner."

The research team interviewed representatives from the areas of information technology, healthcare and wellness, education, law enforcement, food and drink, travel, advertising and suggest that their findings shed light on a growing trend.

They say they hope to raise the ethical questions for debate surrounding whether or not employers should be using Facebook and perhaps other social networking sites to screen candidates. This question is this -- are employers overstepping the bounds of privacy, or is examining a Facebook profile an acceptable way to gauge someone's personality?

"Job seekers should be aware that their future employers are closely observing their Facebook profiles in search of a window into their personality," the research team concludes. "Though this practice raises many ethical issues, it is an emerging phenomenon that is not slowing."


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