Nosey potential employers who reject job candidates after seeing them in rowdy party photos on social media may be taking the wrong approach.
A new study that indicates this underhand recruitment tactic could harm employers may be welcome news to paranoid jobseekers who feel the need to constantly vet their profiles for photos of them swigging wine, or worse.
Researchers at North Carolina State University tested the activity of 175 Facebook users, and compared this with whether they had desirable personality traits that employers want, including conscientiousness, being agreeable, and being an extrovert.
The study also examined how job seekers react to the popular screening practice which sees employees scouting social media for evidence of ‘undesirable’ habits such as drinking and taking drugs to help them reject candidates.
NCSU professor of psychology Lori Foster Thompson said that companies using taking this approach to their recruitment process were missing a trick.
“We found that there is no significant correlation between conscientiousness and an individual’s willingness to post content on Facebook about alcohol or drug use,” she said.
Lead author of the study published in the 'Journal of Business and Pyshcology', Will Stoughton, added: “[The practice] means companies are eliminating some conscientious job applicants based on erroneous assumptions regarding what social media behaviour tells us about the applicants.”
The study also found that employees may be damaging their reputation by Facebook 'stalking'. Psychologists discovered that if a job seeker’s suspicion is piqued by odd friend requests, or rumours are spread about a company’s unofficial recruitment tactics, employees are less likely to perceive the hiring process as unfair and are more inclined to resort to legal action.
Professor Thompson said of the process: “When you think about the fact that top talent usually has a lot of choices as to where they want to go to work, it begins to really matter.”
The practice could signal serious implications for employees. According to a 2013 survey by the UK Institute for Employment Studies, almost half of all companies reported that they use social media profiles to make hiring decisions.