Facebook: one the most controversial employability tools to date. Getting caught with questionable content could mean a fast-track ticket to rejection, but is it worse just to avoid it altogether? The Graduate Recruitment Bureau discusses the latest suggestion that those without a profile might be deemed by employers as socially abnormal and consequentially considered less employable.
Take a minute to think back to your secondary school days, long and distant as they may seem. You might remember acing a few classes – flunking the rest, a bittersweet romance (or two), etc. Anyway, my point is, it’s usually easy to look back and laugh, perhaps even grow a little nostalgic about the the level of immaturity we grow and learn from.
Now that (most of us) have grown a little older and wiser, it’s easier to see the errors in our adolescent judgement. But do we really grow out of it? It’s the occasional headline such as this which might suggest otherwise: “Is not joining Facebook a sign you’re a psychopath? Some employers and psychologists say staying away from social media is ‘suspicious’.”
To Facebook or not to Facebook
This Daily Mail article tenuously links the behaviour of two mass murderers to their lack of Facebook profiles and its sign of their insanity. It goes on to suggest that employers will be put off should they be unable to find you on the social networking site, assuming you have something to hide. Whilst scientists could be onto something in terms of social connections, in an age of shameless social media stalking is it so surprising that someone might just delete it altogether?
There would be indisputable outrage if somebody suggested that the 0.6% of children who are home schooled in the UK pose a threat to society; after all they don’t by law have to follow the National Curriculum. What if they aren’t learning exactly the same as everyone else? Are their thoughts more likely to be corrupted?
So let’s just say an employer who, as a result of finding no Facebook profile assumes you have something to hide – content so bad it was easier to erase altogether. If this was the case, why wouldn’t you just set it to private? Mark Lane, Researching Consultant at GRB makes a valid point: “People are more clued up and have started using their privacy settings, but under normal circumstances there’s no need to delete it entirely. If you set your profile to private they can’t see anything anyway… to them there can’t be any difference between someone having a private profile or a non-existent one.”
Facebook Privacy Settings
There is a huge number of reasons someone might prefer putting their profile on private to avoid being found and employers are not going to disregard you because of it. One of the major ones is naturally to avoid judgement on face value. This is no different from having a CV without a photograph; removing the chance for employers to overlook equal opportunity laws and potentially find ways to excuse a decision. Whilst it is by no means immoral to research a candidate online, there’s equally no obligation on your part to be there when they look.
My name’s Tom Smith, they’ll never find me anyway. Even those with more unusual names will strike up at least ten different options so if you’re sporting a common name then you’re hardly likely to be identified in a basic search anyway. How is an employer going to know which of the thousand others is actually you? And if you really aren’t there, hiding amongst the masses? It’s really not that unreasonable to think some people just don’t find it necessary. It’s not unusual for fads to come and go, especially as you get older. Targeted advertising litters newsfeeds so much that you barely see what you want to anyway; perhaps they prefer to contact their 6 out of 879 “friends” some other way? It’s extremely far-fetched to deem somebody “suspicious” or worse, dangerous in an employer’s eyes. So keep your head screwed on. They’re far more likely to think twice if they see you passed out on a stag do last year. Stick with what you feel comfortable with showing the world and leave the rumour hyping to the teenagers.