Facebook clues may affect job prospects

Clues to a person's personality provided on Facebook could hamper their chances of employment, new research has suggested. Published in the International Journal of Work Innovation, the study revealed many bosses are looking at social media sites to find out more about a would-be worker's lifestyle, attitudes and appearance.

Investigators from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Florida International University in North Miami claimed such an approach is creating a digital divide and pointed to greater encroachment of virtual identity freedoms.

The team noted: "Job seekers should be aware that their future employers are closely observing their Facebook profiles in search of a window into their personality."

They explained such practice is an emerging phenomenon likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

And while employers are turning to social network sites to screen potential candidates, they are also using the medium to monitor the activities of their current employees, the researchers added.

Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society Professor Gail Kinman CPsychol Csi of the University of Bedfordshire commented: "The findings of this study highlight the importance of managing one's online identity carefully. Under current conditions, more applicants are chasing fewer jobs. 

"Employers are clearly prepared to consult a wider range of sources than the usual CV and interview in order to obtain more information about applicants' appearance, personality, lifestyle and friends in order to make predictions about their potential job performance.  

"Although employers may not be very skilled at making inferences from social networking sites, the impressions they get may influence whether or not applicants are successful, or whether or not existing employees are promoted."