Employer Curiosity vs. Personal Privacy – Who Wins?

OK, folks, it's time for me to rant again. Sometimes a bubble rises to the top and just has to burst! I'd love your comments on this topic that I'm raising today.

In order to get a job, should you have to surrender your personal privacy? Where is the line drawn between what a potential employer wants to know and what you, the candidate, must tell them?

Certain rights are protected (supposedly) under current equal employment laws – such as those related to race, sex, marital status, and disability. However, we all know of the exceptions when those "rights" weren't respected. For example, the young woman wearing a wedding ring being drawn into a conversation about childcare. Or the man with a limp asked to explain the reasons why he left his last employer so long ago – due to a workman's compensation injury.

Most recently, unemployment status and personal credit checks have been exposed as common barriers to new employment. Help wanted postings have been seen blatantly stating, "Unemployed need not apply," while candidates lucky enough to get job offers must agree to credit checks before starting work. Of course, credit problems due to no job/no money situations have had adverse effects on credit reports that can lower the axe on job offers.

An article I read today ("Officer forced to reveal Facebook page") really takes the cake! As part of the jobFacebook_favicon_large_2_bigger application process, an individual was asked to provide his Facebook page along with login and password! Are you kidding me? Why not ask for all his emails, text messages, and birthday cards from grandma? What this tells me is that employers who do this are unwilling to assume any risk in hiring employees. They want ironclad guarantees that they have control over the actions of those who work for them. If this doesn't tell workers that there is no loyalty left from employers, I don't know what will. (In the interest of full disclosure, this employer did back down on its request.)

Sure, not all employers have gone this far, but actions like these fuel the feelings of workers who are ready to jump ship as soon as the economy shapes up. But why wait? If you are a skilled and talented worker with a solid career history, there are employers who want you now. I urge you to take charge of your own career and not wait on the economy; and especially, don't wait for any employer to make your decision for you.

Wishing you career success in 2011! (And continue your vigilance over digital dirt!)


1 thought on “Employer Curiosity vs. Personal Privacy – Who Wins?

  1. I’ve had an employer go so far as to ask for my previous years tax returns. That request was promptly turned down as i told him it was none of his business. Of course i didnt get the job, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

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