A reader writes:
I saw this article today and it made me wonder about hiring practices.
In a nutshell, it’s talking about that thorny situation of social media and its use in hiring decisions. A lot of the info there is very 2006-era “duh-tastic” but one thing caught my eye: Some companies are apparently requesting usernames and passwords to access applicants’ accounts on social media sites. This seems VERY sketchy to me, and even though my profile is pretty boring, my first reaction would be to say “No,” and remove myself from their consideration.
What would be your advice to someone who finds themselves in this situation?
Yeah, it’s outrageous. This got some attention last year, when it came out that the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services was asking job applicants for their social media account usernames and passwords for use in background checks. I agree with the person quoted in the article you linked to that it’s like asking someone to hand over their diary.
Now, it should be noted that this practice is very limited. There have only been a handful of reports of it happening. It’s still outrageous and unacceptable, but it’s also not widespread.
Part of me thinks that the employers who are doing this are just clueless about social media, heard that it’s good to check out people’s profiles, and don’t realize that you don’t ask for their passwords in order to see what they’ve posted about themselves. Another part of me thinks that they’re well aware of what they’re asking and this is a natural offshoot of increasingly invasive screening practices.
I’d strongly encourage anyone who finds themselves on the receiving end of this request to refuse it. Say, “I don’t give out passwords for security reasons, although I’d be happy to send you the link for viewing my profile.” And stick to it.
Just because they want to strip search you doesn’t mean you have to let them.