How many of you managers, HR pros, and others responsible for hiring are using MySpace as part of your hiring process? And if you aren't, why not?
Crib sheet for those of us over 30: The MySpace phenomenon has changed the way many people under 30 interact and express themselves. Membership is free and it takes just a few minutes to set up a homepage. Members then adorn their pages with photos, music, artwork, really bad poetry, and solicitations for new "friendships." It seems to be an innovative launchpad for musicians to generate some buzz for their garage bands, and it's an easy way for twentysomethings to meet other twentysomethings who share their interests.
More and more, employers are checking out the MySpace pages of prospective employees as part of their selection process. (See here for a Boston Globe article last March by the always-excellent Diane Lewis on the subject, and here for another great one in the Wall Street Journal by Vauhini Vara.) And why wouldn't you? The pages are public — at least within the MySpace community, to which entry is free and easy. This is not the same as a background or credit or criminal-records check; the only information on a person's MySpace page is whatever he or she chose to put there for the world to see.
And what will you find?
- Many references to bands.
- Many references to drinking.
- Really dumb one-liners.
- More references to drinking.
- Friends of members telling those members how hot they look.
- And — sometimes — members complaining about their past or current jobs.
If I'm thinking of hiring someone, I'd like to know what they (publicly) think of their current job. It may be my company they're complaining about next.
Is it an invasion of their privacy, particularly if they don't expect us to look at their pages? No. If they put the information out in the public domain, they expect it to be read. And they can't control who's going to read it, unless they "privatize" their pages. At best, it shows poor judgment.
One word of caution: you might find information on their page that causes you to learn something about them that might be appropriate for them to share socially but not professionally. Examples include their sexual orientation, their religious beliefs, or their eating disorders or other mental issues. Do not use this information in your hiring decision, or you could be facing a discrimination lawsuit.
And a lot of bad publicity on the prospect's MySpace page.