As person after person on my twitter timeline – including those who are twilebrities – makes their timeline private, i am prompted to think about the new business practice of using facebook and twitter as background checks before hiring a job applicant.
It goes like this:
The company you applied to either legitimately or through some back door method accesses your pages and checks to make sure you’re not a murderer (I would be snide but people actually do post about that stuff), not an alcoholic (I’d say most of our Friday and Saturday night tweets would put us out of the running AND alcoholics need jobs too, especially if financial instability is fueling the alcoholism) and to make sure you’ve never said anything disparaging about the company (this is where my issue arises).
I find it interesting that companies would disqualify job applicants based on past negative tweets about the company. Are you hiring based on qualifications or pre -existing brand loyalty? And is the person not entitled to have a difficulty with one of your services if the service is not working for them?
For example Jamaica’s two telecommunications providers (look at me not calling names because I may require a work from them…and either way I’m not pointing fingers, just using them as relatable examples) employ MANY people (big ups to di call centre work weh a save *nuff* a we). They are also not perfect providers: service goes down, customer service agents are sometimes rude (and human), RIM certainly gave them a bad name, and yes calling rates can seem exorbitant, offers that save money often disappear after three months and issues arise that have *nothing* to do with the provider but in anger customers will blame them. They are businesses, they care about customers but money is the bottom line, and customers who feel they get the dirty end of the deal will speak out on that feeling.
But here’s the thing, if you are a business and you are *actually* committed to improving the quality of service you offer, twitter provides free crowd sourcing of consultants for every part of your business.
They tell you at what point in the day you need to bring on more customer care agents, when you need to introduce a deal to please your customers, when you need to re-brand, which offer is no longer relevant, and even if the free gifts you’re offering fall apart after first use. That is free information people are willingly giving to you, never mind the tone.
Now, the person you are interviewing, up until this moment, was a part of that crowd. How then can you punish them for doing something that is 1) common place and 2) actually beneficial to your company (if your company uses it wisely) because now they want to offer a different kind of service to you? I understand, you don’t want anybody working with you who might undermine your organization, and yes, as an employer you have the right to know who you are hiring. But on the practice of twitter/facebook snooping and persecution (more specifically for ‘negative’ tweets about the company) I have an issue. Most of the people conducting the interviews had no loyalty to the company before they were on payroll. Why should social media be exploited to deny other people the same right to change? Furthermore this has the potential to undermine the company by only populating it with yes-men. A company cannot grow without critique and organizations are doing themselves an injustice by scouring twitter timelines as a part of the application process with the intention of eliminating people who have not always found them to be perfect.
Let’s be honest. businesses make mistakes. Consumers complain yet retain the services. People should be free to speak about their experiences with a company in one way without feeling it will bar them from another kind of relationship with the company. Otherwise what are we doing? Seeking fans instead of hard workers. And while Britney Spears is a business i’m sure she doesn’t interview for accountants in the VIP of her concerts.