Many employers are using Facebook  profiles of job candidates to filter out weaker applicants based on perception of lifestyle, attitudes and personal appearance, according to a new study. This means any inappropriate Facebook profile , posts and photos could cost job candidates their next job.
Vanessa A. de la Llama, Isabel Trueba, Carola Voges, Claudia Barreto and David J. Park of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Florida International University in North Miami, suggested that employers using Facebook to assess those applying for a job with them, are creating a new digital divide, as well as revealing how our freedoms with regard to virtual identity are being encroached upon increasingly by the world of work.
The researchers conducted an in-depth study of employers from six different industries. "While employers are using Facebook to monitor their employees, they have also begun to use it as a screening tool when considering potential candidates," said de la Llama and colleagues, "Because this is a fairly new trend, a standardized set of guidelines has yet to be established, with employers often assessing job applicants in a subjective manner."
The team interviewed representatives from the areas of information technology, healthcare and wellness, education, law enforcement, food and drink, travel, advertising and suggest that their findings shed light on a growing trend.
They hope to raise the ethical questions for debate surrounding whether or not employers should be using Facebook and perhaps other social networking sites to screen candidates. The question of whether employers are providing job candidates with equal opportunities if they are assessing online "image" prior to interviewing candidates must be raised. Of course, it is possible that one's Facebook activity is a perfectly acceptable window on to one's personality.
"Job seekers should be aware that their future employers are closely observing their Facebook profiles in search of a window into their personality," the team concluded.
"Though this practice raises many ethical issues, it is an emerging phenomenon that is not slowing," they added. The findings will be published in the International Journal of Work Innovation this month.