Are Employers Misunderstanding Facebook Posts?

Jul 5, 2013

Employers could make wrong assumptions about job applicants based on Facebook posts.

New research out of NC State shows it might not be smart for employers to rely so heavily on social network sites to write off potential candidates.  Yes, you can find almost anything on the internet, including videos like this one on on how to prepare for an employer’s social network check.

“Scan your profiles for any content a potential employer might not like, offensive content, posts related to drinking or drugs.”

Of course, assumptions will be made.  NC-State Psychology Professor Lori Foster Thompson says a Facebook search of party photos doesn’t check for conscientiousness. 

“If you are weeding out the people who have done so on their Facebook, this study shows that you are screening out some of your more extroverted applicants which in some cases might be the people you are looking for,” said Thompson.

Thompson co-authored these findings published this week online in, Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.  The name of the paper is "Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants' Social Media Postings."  Researchers tested 175 young job applicants and measured the personality traits that companies generally look for.  They include conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion. 

Will Stoughton is a Ph.D. candidate at NC State and a co-author of the paper.

"I think we were definitely surprised by the conscientiousness finding that there was no correlation with drug and alcohol postings," said Stoughton.  "It really showed that people high on conscientiousness are just as likely to post about chugging a beer or doing drugs as somebody low on conscientiousness."