Readers, I stumbled upon this light-hearted article that was posted on the CareerBuilder site earlier this month – I just had to share! I think you’ll find some good career advice here.  Enjoy!



Facebook – A Hiring Manager’s Best Friend

A reader writes….

Dear Anita,

I own a small business and am in the process of hiring a few employees.  As part of my “screening,” I have looked up candidates on Facebook.  Since I’m not “friends” with these people on the site, I am unable to access a lot of their information.  In some cases, however, their profile picture alone tells me whether or not I want to hire them. Is it considered legal or illegal to make hiring decisions based purely on photos or “Wall” posts?   

Dear “Digital Detective,”

I love your question and believe it is a subject that not only pertains to supervisors and hiring managers… but to job seekers as well.

To cut to the chase, I highly recommend you DO NOT make hiring decisions based on what you see on Facebook.  While it may be tempting, there are several factors you must consider when hiring employees.  Moreover, you may be crossing the line. Remember, discrimination in any form based on Social Media that you view (whether pictures or comments) because of race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, medical condition, pregnancy, childbirth, mental disability, physical disability, veteran status, marital status, registered domestic partner status, or genetic characteristic is against the law.

Despite this warning, it is interesting to note that according to a survey by Microsoft, 75% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals report that their companies REQUIRE them to do online research about candidates.  This type of “digital detective work” (as I like to call it) includes social networking sites, blogs, online gaming sites, and more.  To top it off, 70% of U.S. recruiters report that they have rejected candidates because of information they have found online (including photos)… sound familiar?

Job seekers… listen up!  While it may be fun to post pictures from last night’s party (for the world to see), believe it when I tell you, your potential employer may be seeing it too.  Does that mean you don’t have the right to post such fun memories?  Of course not!  But be warned, anything you post online can be searched, accessed, saved, and in the case of getting hired… used against you.
Take it from Anita, think twice before you upload!

In a New York Times article posted last summer, it was noted that,  “there are more than 100 million registered Twitter users, and the Library of Congress announced that it will be acquiring — and permanently storing — the entire archive of public Twitter posts since 2006.” Hmm…  Any incriminating “tweets” out there, my friends?

So getting back to the question at hand – Is it legal or illegal to make hiring decisions based on photos, etc…

I’m not an attorney, but from what I’ve read, it looks like there are a lot of people out there that would like to see this hiring practice eliminated.   Facebook photos and updates are meant to be fun, light-hearted, and personal – without “Big Brother” watching.  Some have equated Facebook as being the new break room gossip – where the boss is not supposed to be listening in!

The New York Times article goes on to say, “A handful of states — including New York, California, Colorado and North Dakota — broadly prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for legal off-duty conduct like smoking. Paul Ohm (a law professor at the University of Colorado) suggests that these laws could be extended to prevent certain categories of employers from refusing to hire people based on Facebook pictures, status updates and other legal but embarrassing personal information. (In practice, these laws might be hard to enforce, since employers might not disclose the real reason for their hiring decisions, so employers, like credit-reporting agents, might also be required by law to disclose to job candidates the negative information in their digital files.)”

To read the complete NY Times article, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/magazine/25privacy-t2.html?pagewanted=all

And if you’re interested in reading more on this subject, here are a few additional links for your convenience:

Part 1: http://www.employmentblawg.com/2006/employers-using-facebook-for-background-checking-part-i/

Part 2: http://www.employmentblawg.com/2006/more-on-using-facebook-et-al-in-recruiting-and-hiring/

Part 3: http://www.employmentblawg.com/employers-using-facebook-for-background-checking-part-iii/


This is a heated topic folks… and now it’s YOUR turn to post your thoughts and comments.

Tell me readers, should hiring managers use Facebook as part of their decision-making process?
If you’re a manager, do you include this step? If so, what has it revealed?

Anxious to hear from you!

Go Green – Ideas for Businesses

A reader writes….

I’m in charge of my company’s “Go Green” initiative… do you have any ideas or suggestions on ways I can get employees on board?


Dear “Go Green,”

I applaud you for taking the lead on this very important initiative! There are a variety of things your organization can do; here are a few suggestions to help get you started:

Form a Committee – Select various employees to serve as “go green” ambassadors where they will lead certain initiatives that help the environment.  Gather as a group on a regular basis to brainstorm ideas such as:

  • Recycling paper in the copy machine
  • Turning off lights (in bathrooms, conference rooms, etc.) when not in use
  • Encouraging carpools or the use of alternate forms of transportation to work  
  • Conserving water
  • Reusing file folders and UPS envelopes, etc.
  • The list can go on and on…

Establish a “Corporate Responsibility Day” – In addition to giving employees paid time off for sick days, personal days, and/or vacations, some businesses are also adding “Corporate Responsibility Days” into the mix.  This is a day where employees can do volunteer work during regular business hours – with the support and permission of their employer.

Add a page to your public website – You can emphasize your company’s involvement by featuring activities and events on your company website.  Have your marketing department create a logo… add photos… give it some pizzazz!

Support a charity – As a company, get involved with fund-raisers, spread the word to other business partners, and announce your contributions in a press release.

Evaluate how you’re currently running your business.  Do you issue paper invoices or can you go electronic?  Can you streamline process and files online? Are there other ways you can eliminate excess paperwork?

Hey readers, what are some other “go green” initiatives you or companies have done?
Details… Details!


Saying “no” to working late

A reader writes…

Dear Anita, 

My boss regularly hands me a stack of ASAP work at 4:45 in the afternoon, as I’m getting ready to wrap up my day. I’m happy to work after hours, but I also have a family.  How can I politely tell her “no” to working late?

Dear “Worker Bee,”

I completely understand your predicament.  On the one hand, you’re grateful to HAVE a job these days and are presumably a hard worker and a dedicated employee.  On the other hand, you have your other “full-time” job waiting for you at home – that of tending to meals, helping with homework, and being actively involved with your family.  So how do you tactfully say “no can do” to your boss?  Worse yet is seeing HER leave for the day as you’re left with a stack of “to-dos!”

Should you:

1. Throw the work back at your boss and tell her to shove it? 

  • ABSOLUTELY NOT! (Even though you’d probably love to!)


2. Politely accept the work, stay late into the evening, and let your family know you’re going to be late… AGAIN.

  • Hmmm… tough call. The fact is, in most jobs there are occasions when you have to put in those extra hours and plug away at something.  For some people, this is EVERY DAY. The point is, you don’t want this to become the norm.  Work-life balance is essential – not only for your own well-being, but for the people around you.  Productivity suffers when you’re feeling stressed and overworked.  It can also have a huge impact on your personal relationships.

It’s important that you have a heart-to-heart with your boss and make sure there’s a clear understanding of the job and expectations of your time.  At some companies, you “clock in” and “out” with a set schedule – no overtime.  At others, you need to work as long as it takes to get the job done. It can vary from place to place. Keep in mind that in some instances overtime is unlawful (exempt vs. non-exempt).  If you’re being asked to put in extra hours, make sure you are being compensated according to the law.  For more information, visit: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/workhours/overtime.htm 

Frequently receiving a stack of ASAP work at the end of the day, sounds pretty rough.  If anyone, it sounds like your BOSS could use some time management training!  Perhaps you can suggest ways for her to filter projects to you earlier in the day, set reminders, or be more proactive about what’s to come.  

Remember to always remain professional, but do your best to open up the lines of communication… before you start feeling resentful!

Hey readers…  Are you working in a similar situation?  What about the bosses out there… do you find yourself doing this to YOUR employees? 



Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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