Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Big Brother is Hiring You

There are questions we can all count on to be asked in interviews; questions about past jobs, experience, skills, and references. Some new questions are finding their way into the old stand-bys. From CBS news:

When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password.

Justin Bassett said no. He told them he did not want to work for a company that would invade the privacy of their employees.

Not everyone can afford to say no.

Back in 2010, Robert Collins was returning to his job as a security guard at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services after taking a leave following his mother's death. During a reinstatement interview, he was asked for his login and password, purportedly so the agency could check for any gang affiliations. He was stunned by the request but complied.

"I needed my job to feed my family. I had to," he recalled,


E. Chandlee Bryan, a career coach and co-author of the book "The Twitter Job Search Guide," said job seekers should always be aware of what's on their social media sites and assume someone is going to look at it.

True - but then she went on to say:

"I think that when you work for a company, they are essentially supporting you in exchange for your work. I think if you're dissatisfied, you should go to them and not on a social media site," she said.

In other words: when you work for a company they own you, and you should expect no right to privacy.

But Lori Andrews, law professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law specializing in Internet privacy, is concerned about the pressure placed on applicants, even if they voluntarily provide access to social sites.

"Volunteering is coercion if you need a job," Andrews said.

We can expect to hear more about this trend in the coming months. Legislators in Maryland and Illinois are working on legislation to bar companies from asking for access to social networking sites, and other states will undoubtedly create similar laws. Do employees have a right to privacy? Does one sacrifice that right in return for a paycheck?

Stay tuned.

Cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org

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