Prospective employers checking you out on Facebook not ethical? Get over it.

November 8, 2009

Is it ethical for a company to use what you freely post on a social networking site as part of their decision making process?

I posed that question the other day to a group of students at Queen’s Business School in Kingston, Ontario.  The answers I got were interesting; they generally saw sites like Facebook as just that: a social networking tool. And they didn’t generally connect that a prospective employer has an ethical right to base their hiring decision on what a candidate posts online in their off hours.

But here’s the thing: Regardless of the ethical questions at play, what you post online will likely be found, in one form or another, by prospective employers. A recent study found that 45 percent of employers surveyed use social networks to screen job candidates.

So, here’s a question for all business students: At a time when unemployment is at a 26-year high, and competition for jobs is fiercer than ever, what are you currently doing with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to expand, find, or grow your career? Are you taking advantage of what’s free in a way that allows you to take those steps?