What to do if employer asks to surf your social media sites

By MARVIN WALBERG Scripps Howard News Service Published:

I'm sure you've heard -- everyone's talking about it! Many employers are asking job applicants for their social media or email user names and passwords as part of the interview process.

Or, they ask the job seeker to log onto to their social media during the interview, or they ask the job applicant to "friend" an HR person. And, although the process is incredibly invasive, it may be legal!

Last week I posed a question on my Face book page: "How would you respond if a hiring manager asked for your FB or email user name or password?' The answers were predictable ... most people were outraged.

"Get up and walk away!"

"You would not want to work for an employer who was so disrespectful of your privacy!"

"It's got to be illegal!"

"My social media is protected by my password, so stay away!"

"Ask for their user name and password and see how they like it!"

One person said, "Ok."

The bottom line is that all people who responded to my FB post were right, but as far as we know, the employer is also within rights to ask the question, and furthermore, if you respond negatively, you might not get the job offer.

So, what do we do?

I'm not here to argue the pros and cons of employers asking for this information.

If enough pressure is brought to bear, maybe things will change. What I am here to do is help you get hired, so my suggestion is to understand that no matter how you respond, some employers will not rest until they view your private social media posts, and they will (one way or another) get into them with or without your help.

If you have something inappropriate to hide, clean it up and change your evil ways.

Don't let an inappropriate posting block your future, and pass this information on to young people in your family.

Also, if you have pranksters around, like a brother or sister, log off of your social media when you're finished -- don't open the door for prank postings on your behalf!

Focus on the job you want and use your social media socially, and appropriately. And, if an employer asks for such information, tell them you think it's certainly too invasive, but since you have nothing to hide, here you go.

(Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach based in Birmingham, Ala. For contact information, see marvin-walberg.com.)


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