Category: appropriateness

Screening hires: social media’s pound of flesh?

Recently I’ve seen a number of articles suggesting more and more employers are using social networking sites to screen candidates.

It seems reasonably proactive and an efficient leverage for companies to filter through the rough and determine if applicant X would be an apt fit in a given work environment.

New York Times blog post notes the following among the top things considered as red flags: provocative photos, drinking/drug use, bad-mouthing employers, and poor communication skills.

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It takes a healthy dose of common sense and an even heftier dose of professionalism for anyone to ensure that their online presence and profile remain civil and non-incriminating. Also, privacy settings for these sites do exist for a reason.

But I do question this screening approach. And before I do, let me first reflect on the state of social transparency as most of us see it.

Wisdom of the Crowds: a blurred vision?
Each time I am continually drawn to @mehwolfy‘s post The Social Media Zebra Question, which in my view, paints one of the most unbiased pictures of social transparency and offers a compelling case for why unadulterated expression is what lends quality to the rawness of uncontrolled messaging—one of the principal tenets of social media.

The brand-customer relationship has been forever transformed as a result of this transparency. In fact many traditional best practices in communications are beginning to evolve as we pay closer attention to the collective voice from the wisdom of crowds. The new paradigm has been a boon to many businesses.

Will the mode of transparency continue to permeate the cultural mindset to the point where its sheer boldness begins to outweigh and outsmart the long-term benefits it can offer? How clearly can we sustain our vision in this brave new world?

Pound of Flesh: a measure that’s never exact
I briefly allude to a classic line from the Bard’s piece The Merchant of Venice simply because Portia’s speech on the quality of mercy not being strained, to me, speaks volumes to the poignant and well justified notion of relativity. An exact pound of flesh can never be carved out of Antonio, and, in essence, no issue is ever that black and white.

Fast forward to this article, Self-destruction through social media, in which one employee updated her Facebook status with “These kids are driving me crazy” and was dismissed for the remark.

Was the remark so pejorative that it hopelessly marred the company’s reputation or rendered said kids into irreparable psychological damage? I even came across another article which noted that employers look for excessive use of emoticons as a red flag. Seriously??

Who in these organizations is defining what is considered truly inappropriate on social networking sites? In the same way social transparency’s intensity is transforming traditional communications by storm, is there also a risk to this filtering trend getting way out of hand?

Bottom line: do organizations really get social media, enough that they are able to make sound judgment calls on who and what they deem appropriate for public consumption?

What do YOU think?