This was one of my first published pieces in a real life newspaper about employers watching us on social media.
You can imagine my delight when the editor of this very paper emailed me. I was going to write for a paper. I had a place to showcase my writing talents. The initial buzz of excitement disappeared when I realised, to my horror, I had added the editor as a friend on Facebook.
This might not seem like a big deal to some people but I had recently been at a hen party. The grooms name was William and the party was themed with that in mind, with plenty of, ahem, “Williams”. there were straws, necklaces, t-shirts, even a three-foot long inflatable “William” that I spent part of the night dancing with. There were probably several hundred photos taken of that night, most of which ended up online. The problem, what if the editor saw them and thought I was unprofessional because of my friend’s hen night?
Sadly, I’m not alone with this issue. With the rise of online social networking sites and people using them, it’s getting harder to keep professional and personal lives separate, and it can mean the difference between job and no job. Employers are using it to their advantage and vetting potential candidates by their CV’s and what they put online. there have even been whispers of social media spies, people who get paid to watch other employee’s online footprints. This means that if you try and take a sickie for a tummy bug when you are actually hungover, you will get caught.
But is it right that employers can use your Facebook page against you? Or is it even legal? Unfortunately it is such a grey area for the law. Some solicitors argue it is a breach of privacy to vet a candidate over an online profile, it should be the application for the job and any references which should be taken into account. They see it as discrimination against a person because of their lifestyle choices.
Everyone is entitled to a social life, and as long as it doesn’t affect a person’s performance at work, why should it be of any interest to the boss? But then again, what if a person’s behaviour outside of the work place could damage a companies reputation? Is it not right that they take any steps to protect themselves, including checking any available information?
So far, the editor has said nothing about my only night out in six months. Either they don’t care, or they didn’t notice. I may have shot myself in the foot with this column by pointing it out, but it is probably better to get it out in the open. Or maybe I should have just deleted the pictures….?
I was also featured on the website and in another CT Editorial when I complained about peas.