The Job Interview: “We’re Going To Need Your Facebook Password…”

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Unemployment18If you are reading this article on LinkedIn.com, chances are pretty favorable that you also have an account on Facebook.com, which you use for networking with family and friends, or keeping up with topics which interest you.

Within the last couple of years, Corporate Recruiters and Interviewers have integrated some surprising and controversial new job seeker screening practices into their quest to find viable Job Candidates for their clients/corporations. These practices have come to be known as “shoulder surfing” and “force friending”. This new arrow in the Recruiter/Interviewer’s quiver ultimately involves asking the Job Candidate for their Facebook password.

“Shoulder surfing” is a practice which involves the Interviewer asking a candidate in an interview to log in to his or her Facebook account, in order for the Human Resources Department to screen “friends-only” postings for lurid party photos, questionable activities, drug use or racial/religious/gender slurs that might be revealed in a job seeker’s private online life.

“Force friending” frequently occurs among college athletic departments where administrators require players to friend them in order to keep tabs on potential non-compliant activities by their NCAA athletes.

Additionally, some types of employers, particularly law enforcement agencies, have been requesting the Facebook password of a job seeker, right on the job application.

By now, you are probably thinking,

Wait a minute. Isn’t that an Invasion of Privacy?

Unfortunately, as wrong as one might find these practices from a privacy and free speech perspective, there is no specific law preventing them, at least for now.

According to legal experts, employers are walking a fine line in demanding access to employee or applicants’ personal social media accounts. In fact  ACLU-backed legislation is in the works in several states.

Jennifer Corso, who is an employment law attorney that represents businesses, advises against the practice.

In my opinion, while these practices may be legal, it opens the employer up to several types of employment discrimination claims and should not be practiced. It is very possible that the Facebook page would reveal information about the applicant that would otherwise be the subject of illegal interview questions.” She cites the revealing of age and race, a medical condition, religious affiliation, even comments about planning to start a family are often evident on private posts; “if that applicant isn’t selected, the employer may be put in a position to show that it didn’t rely on that private information in making their decision.

Facebook itself has warned in the past that the practice “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends” and “potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

So, what do you do if the Interviewer puts on the spot and asks you for your Facebook Password? After all, you want the job, but, you do not want the prospective employer dissecting your personal life, like an Eighth Grade Biology Student dissecting a frog.

From theladders.com, here are some responses to give politely give to the Interviewer, which, hopefully, will allow you to protect your privacy on Facebook. (As usual, the questions are the authors. The analysis, including any smart alack remarks that may pop up, are mine.)

1. I take my agreements very seriously. And it is against Facebook’s user policy to share my password with anyone else. I’m going to have to respectfully decline your request.

Because if you tell the Interviewer, “it’s none of your business”, you will be shown the door…post haste.

2. I’m sure your firm has a social media policy. Well, it is my own social media policy to use Facebook for personal reasons. I mean no offense, but I’m going to have to decline.

Or, perhaps you could ask the Interviewer for their Facebook password…and, watch them respond with the “deer in the headlights” “eyes glazed over” look.

3. Privacy is a very serious matter for me. Should I be employed with your organization, I would honor private company information just as seriously as I honor my own. Even if this means losing a great opportunity for me, I must refuse your request. And know that if I were presented with a similar situation with your private information, I would respond in the same way.

This response shows the potential Employer that you possess strength of character…a rare trait nowadays….a trait that any employer worth their salt should be looking for in a job candidate.

4. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize your organization’s standing with OFCCP’s (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) regulations about asking about kids or other protected private matters in the course of an employment decision. Therefore, if you don’t mind, I’d prefer to keep my Facebook profile private. However, should you and I become friendly after my employment, I would have no problem having you in my network.

Interviewers should be, and probably are, familiar with the OFCCP. This response s a polite inference that you know the legalities of Job Interviewing, as well as they do.

In conclusion, most of us who are Facebook aficionados are just regular folks, whose account consists of pictures of family, friends, pets, and silly pictures with funny quips on them. However, if you are passionate about your faith, or are outspoken about your political leanings, that is your business, and should not affect whether you are hired for a job, if you are qualified for it.

In my opinion (and, you can take it for what it is worth), that is why having a LinkedIn.com account is so important.

LinkedIn.com presents a great overall view of your professional qualifications to a potential employer, in a clear and concise manner.

Leave Facebook for Personal Interests.

Hey. Who came up with “Caturday”, anyway?

Never give up. Never Surrender.

-Allen

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Okay, Ol’ Codger. You’ve Lost Your Job. Now What?

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unemployedTwo weeks ago today, on April 1st, I joined the ranks of the unemployed, due to a Budget Cut.

In years past, this would have been tough. Now, it is tougher. You see, I’m 55 years old.

Being a writer, and someone to whom performing research comes as naturally as breathing in and out, I immediately performed a Google Search, on “Being Unemployed Over 50”. I found an article on the subject , posted in 2012 on forbes.com, which included this hardly-inspiring little ray of sunshine:

For older workers who lose their jobs, the statistics are not very encouraging. Though the unemployment rate for people over 55 is just 5.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several points lower than the overall rate of 8.1%, when older workers lose their jobs they are out of work for a long time, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. In May, 54.9% of job seekers over 55 had been looking for 27 weeks or more. According to the Institute, on average, unemployed people over 55 have been out of work for more than a year—56 weeks. Also, as my colleague Ashlea Ebeling wrote in May, the Urban Institute released a report showing that median monthly earnings fell 23% after an unemployment spell for reemployed workers aged 50 to 61, compared with just 11% for workers aged 25 to 34.

Yeehaw. Okay, so what should I do? I mean, I can only watch “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “In The Heat of The Night” reruns so many times. Besides, I keep remembering the mug shots of the late Howard Rollins, from the time he was arrested for Substance Abuse while wearing women’s clothing. It was not a pretty sight.

But, I digress…

The Forbes Article goes on to feature stories from  Renée Rosenberg, a career counselor who specializes in over-50 job seekers. She is the author of Achieving the Good Life After 50, and a coach with the national career coaching organization.

According to Ms. Rosenberg, and the writer of the article, Susan Adams,

Often older workers need to adjust their expectations and consider jobs outside their area of expertise. Sometimes this means swallowing a pay cut, but it can also mean taking a job that is more low key and located closer to home. One of Rosenberg’s clients, at 68, lost his finance job in a downsizing. He realized he wanted to walk to work in his New York suburb. While poking around his neighborhood he saw a help wanted sign in a storefront. He inquired, and landed a job as a dispatcher for a limousine and car service. The job isn’t glamorous but it meets his financial needs and keeps him close to home.

In other words, grab whatever you can. If I was in my late 60s, I would probably follow those ladies’ advice.

However, I am not. I am only 55. I believe that I still have a lot to offer an employer.

The only problem is, will the employers see it that way?

I believe, as a “Marketing Guru”, that it is all a mater of how you package…or repackage yourself.

“Back in the day”, I was extremely proficient at what is now known as the “Old Technology” (“B.D.” : Before Digital).

I realized, at 50 years old, that I needed to “catch up” with Technology, in order to make myself more marketable, so, I accepted a job as a Computer Intern with Digital Opportunity Trust.

Digital Opportunity Trust was a Non-profit Organization which originated in Canada. When it came to America, it located in Picayune, Mississippi, as a part of AmeriCorps.  It’s mission was, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to go into the public schools in Louisiana and Mississippi, and teach the Administrators, Teachers, and Students how to use the New Technology (Twitter, Facebook, Skype, blogging, etc.) as Educational Tools, in order to improve the educational process.

While DOT is no longer with us, due to their funding being eliminated by the Federal Government, the importance of their mission lives on, as many school districts now have their own New Technology Instructors,

By taking “one step back” and becoming an Intern at 50 years old, I was able to re-invent myself, making my job skills more marketable.

If you are my age, and you, too, are in search of a new job opportunity, my advice to you is…

If there is an opportunity to update your skills, take it. You are never to old to learn and to grow from the learning.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Allen