A new study has shown that Facebook is completely useless for screening potential employees, and that what job applicants share on social media has no relationship to how well they will perform in their place of employment or carry out their work tasks. The news may come as no surprise to the vast majority of Americans, who may post things on social media which could potentially be considered “unprofessional “ or “inappropriate” in the workplace, and yet be top performers in their career.
The study was published in the Journal of Management and is entitled Social Media for Selection? Validity and Adverse Impact Potential of a Facebook-Based Assessment. It found that when assessing candidates from Facebook profiles, recruiters were not able to accurately predict any factors about the potential employee as they related to job performance. The researchers explain:
Recruiter ratings of applicants’ Facebook information were unrelated to supervisor ratings of job performance… In addition, Facebook ratings did not contribute to the prediction…. Furthermore, there was evidence…that tended to favor female and White applicants. The overall results suggest that organizations should be very cautious about using social media information such as Facebook to assess job applicants.
What’s more, some experts suggest, those who find out they have been the subject of social media scrutiny by a potential employer may view the company as engaging in unfair hiring practices. This could open up employers to a host of lawsuits should the applicant be turned down for a job. Social media profiles may reveal many characteristics about a person, including race, sexual orientation, level of ability and other protected classes that fall under federal hiring laws. It is possible that job candidates could make a good case for discriminatory hiring practices if they find out that an employer snooped on their profile and then declined to hire them based on what was seen there.
Contrary to what Mark Zuckerberg has said in the past, human beings do not only have “one identity.” Zuckerberg has been quoted as claiming this, and also as saying that “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” However, since Zuckerberg has zero credentials in human psychology and has been said to have “a touch of the Aspergers” by a colleague, he is not an expert on the human condition despite being the founder of the world’s largest social network. Facebook is completely useless for screening job applicants, and this has now been proven by a peer-reviewed study.
No degree in psychology is needed, though, for most mentally healthy people to understand that they wear many different hats depending on the occasion. For example, when meeting the Queen of England, most people would act differently than they would when sitting around drinking wine with the girls. A person might scream at the top of his lungs when his team scores a touchdown, yet be in tip top professional shape for the board meeting the next day. He won’t act the same at that meeting as he had been acting the day before. He has a different identity depending on the time and place, but each of his identities belongs to the same person. Further, this shifting of identities is a common human experience that the majority of people share. Therefore, the study results should not come as a surprise to anyone who is a generally normal healthy adult.
Employers should not rely on social media to give them any useful information about how someone may perform at a job. Furthermore, job applicants should decline giving any prospective employer access to any information beyond what can be useful for the person hiring. A person’s social network is their own private domain and does not reveal anything useful to the employer.
It is patently absurd for Mark Zuckerberg to state that that human being have only one identity, and that’s why the study findings make sense. Facebook is completely useless for screening job applicants, and the study authors recommend against this practice for companies looking to hire.
An Editorial By: Rebecca Savastio