Why Companies Shouldn’t Care About Employees’ Drunk Facebook Photos
4:30 pm, July 2nd | by Grace Rasmus
It has become increasingly common for hiring managers to scour social media sites in order to get insights into potential employees’ character. So, unfortunately, those super-cute yet super-drunk Facebook photos from your cousin’s wedding might be hurting your job hunt. According to a new study, however, they shouldn’t be.
“Companies often scan a job applicant’s Facebook profile to see whether there is evidence of drug or alcohol use, believing that such behavior means the applicant is not ‘conscientious,’ or responsible and self-disciplined,” said Dr. Lori Foster Thompson, a psychology professor at North Carolina State University and co-author of a paper describing the study. However, in a study of 175 people, the researchers found that there is no significant correlation between “conscientiousness” and someone’s willingness to post content on Facebook about alcohol or drug use.
“This means companies are eliminating some conscientious job applicants based on erroneous assumptions regarding what social media behavior tells us about the applicants,” said Will Stoughton, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of the paper.
In fact, the results of the study indicate that “extraverted candidates were prone to postings related to alcohol and drugs.” So if you’re seeking a job in a field in which an extraverted personality is valued, such as marketing or sales, a savvy hiring manager might actually appreciate your online buffoonery.
However, those who cyber-bully and “badmouth” people online do not enjoy this same leniency. “Those low in agreeableness were particularly likely to engage in online badmouthing behaviors,” according to the study.
The authors of the study say employers should probably rethink how much weight they give to the things they encounter online.
“If employers plan to keep using social media to screen job applicants, this study indicates they may want to focus on eliminating candidates who badmouth others – not necessarily those who post about drinking beer,” Stoughton said.