Should you Facebook your atheism?

17 09 2008

PC World reports that employers admit to checking out applicants’ Facebook and MySpace profiles before deciding whether to hire them:

Increasing numbers of employers are checking out potential staff’s social networking profiles, says Careerbuilder.com. [. . .] The research also revealed that while 24 percent of employers had hired a member of staff based on their social-networking profile, 33 percent had also decided not to make a job offer after reviewing the content on a profile. Use of drugs or drinking and the posting of photographs deemed ‘inappropriate’ or ‘provocative’ were identified as the most popular reasons why employers eliminated a candidate after viewing their social networking profile.

Careerbuilder.com advises job hunters to either regularly edit their social-networking pages to ensure there is no negative content available or make them ‘private’ to avoid would-be employers snooping at their personal life.

The fact that a potential employee likes to enjoy a few beers on the weekend is a pretty stupid reason to excise them from the shortlist, not to mention hypocritical, given office Xmas parties, farewell and end-of-year dos, and so on. What concerns me are some of the other tidbits of information, not addressed in the Careerbuilder.com study, that might also give some employers reason to reject a potential applicant. The applicant’s political affiliations, or the books he or she reads, or the groups of which he or she is a member, for instance. Or his or her religious affiliation, or lack thereof.

Can outing yourself as an atheist on Facebook jeopardise your career?

Certainly there are some professions in which being out about one’s atheism would likely be detrimental to one’s employment prospects. Private religious schools are allowed to discriminate against potential employees on the basis of religious affiliation. In Australia, they can do this, and still be eligible for government funding. This is state-sponsored religious bigotry (the “good” bigotry), and it’s fucked up. But it’s a sobering thought for any teacher who is labouring under the misapprehension that they are as free to be as open about their atheism as any Christian teacher is regarding his or her Christianity. In an employment market in which a sizeable proportion is made up of religious schools, hide the “A” away if you want to maximise your job prospects.

But do you think your atheism is likely to scare off any other employers?

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7 responses

17 09 2008
elbuho

Well I have no qualms about outing myself on Facebook, but then I’m self-employed 😛
Of course one of my potential clients might check me out on Facebook, but I’m not too worried about that.

17 09 2008
Sean the Blogonaut

I have been open about it for some time on Facebook. I am open about it at my current workplace, at a previous position the entire management team were atheists.

I am applying for a job now that offers a 12 step treatment program that is religiously focused, so we will see if it is a problem as I intend to be upfront about it.

17 09 2008
The Nerd

If they would discriminate against atheists, why would I ever want to work there? This saves me the trouble of finding out the hard way.

17 09 2008
Bruce

Can outing yourself as an atheist on Facebook jeopardise your career?

I know for a fact that it’s already played out career wise for me, although the point is moot now.

17 09 2008
AV

If they would discriminate against atheists, why would I ever want to work there? This saves me the trouble of finding out the hard way.

A good point, if it were the case that educational institutions that discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation received no taxpayer funding. Or if taxpayer funding for private schools was made conditional on those schools meeting the same hiring requirements as public schools are obliged to.

But no . . . these religious schools want all the perks of living in a society (e.g. government funding) but none of the responsibilities.

17 09 2008
AV

I can understand where you’re coming from, however. I would never work for a fundie school, because I suspect life would be hell for any teacher who did not sufficiently fall in line with the strictures of the cult. Some of these “Christian” schools have been known to conduct themselves towards dissenters and backsliders in such a fashion as to confirm the notion that the association of “Christianity” with “morality” is one of the biggest lies perpetuated on human civilisation in the last two thousand years. I remember one such school in Perth, Kingsway Christian College (a K-12 institution), expelling a pre-primary student because his mother was living in a de facto relationship, contrary to cult rules.

It’s like Betty Bowers says: “God told me to hate you.”

17 09 2008
Secular Planet

Of course, you could just set your profile to private like almost everyone and not worry about it.

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