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Liz Ryan Headshot

Employers Demanding Facebook Passwords? Perfect!

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I was indignant and horrified for ten seconds when I heard that employers were requiring job applicants to supply their Facebook passwords during the selection process. Then I realized that if employers do that, it will be a wonderful way to signal to job-seekers, "Don't Work Here." I only hope that these employers make it clear in their help-wanted ads that they're requiring FB passwords from job applicants, so that the job-seekers don't waste time filling out applications and sending resumes to toadish organizations that don't deserve them.

If you have an ounce of faith in your company's leadership, would you really believe that you can't hire good employees without digging into their personal lives via back-end access to their Facebook accounts? How paranoid would an organization have to be, to doubt its own managers' instincts so severely that it doesn't trust them to hire smart people without resorting to KGB-type snooping tactics?

When you apply for a job, the employer has a lot of ways to check you out already.

They see your resume. They see your LinkedIn profile, and the endorsements on it and the people you're connected to. (You need one, in my opinion, if you don't have one already.) They can talk to you over the phone, and then can meet you in person, multiple times. They can talk to your past employers. They can pose real-life business problems to you. They can get you to create a writing sample.

What else do they need? If they can't make a decision about you by interacting with you, your branding materials and other people who know you, they're already way too obtuse to get any value from invading your Facebook account.

There are people who shouldn't be involved in the hiring process in any way, and way too many of those people are hiring managers and HR people. If they say they need your FB account to make the decision on whether or not to hire you, they're too stupid to be managing people. You don't have time to work among people like that.

It's brilliant that the worst employers, the most fear-based and uncreative ones, are adopting the employer-branding signal "We require FB login information from our applicants." That is an employer brand sure to bring them the fearful, please-the-boss-above-all sorts of applicants they seek. The more clearly an organization conveys the message "We talk about talent, but have no actual talent in the building" the better for everyone else -- the human, talent-worthy organizations and the job-seekers, both.