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?