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Haibo Mfondini
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Don’t clean up your Facebook for job applications

22 June 2014, 07:43

This article is a delayed but relevant response to the latter-day hype about the misuse of social networks that may extinguish one’s chances of obtaining employment.

I plunged, face first, to a jaw-dropping steaming pile of awe when I read the Facebook page of a radio talk show host, Luzuko Koti, who iterated the ideals of Duncan Alfreds which resonated from an article titled “Clean up your Facebook for job applications”. The comments that followed on the page were a unanimous echo and no one dared to challenge the sentiment. Yes-men, if you will, imitating the day job of a programmed machine.

The content was, simply put; if you subscribe to a lifestyle that the potential employer, in their personal opinion, deems inappropriate, hide it. The same, I’d imagine, goes for religious and political views. The absurdity of this sentiment is unfathomable. I completely disagree with the bigotry, the censorship and the blatant disregard for the country’s labour laws displayed by HR departments regarding their employment procedures.

In the comment section of Alfreds’ article, one human resource practitioner was quoted, quite eloquently, as stating “I scan all employees FB before a interview is even given.” Considering that at the moment, there is no Social Media Act legislated by Parliament, the legality of this practice is questionable.

In my view, professional conduct is a staged act of restraining habits and natural behaviour to adopt what common law perceives to be decent and in line with the interests of the employer, by extension, the workplace. For example, when nature calls during a meeting, one restrains their need to fart. If one needs a smoke, they don’t fire up a cigarette at their workstation. One restrains unprofessional conduct for the comfort of their solitude outside the realms of the company code of conduct. How, then, does being caught on camera, in a social situation, drinking alcohol have a bearing on one’s ability to conduct themselves in a professional manner at a professional environment? What if the HR practitioner doesn’t agree with my opinion on gun control or my speculation to the outcomes of the Oscar Pistorius trial? How does that cripple my credibility to execute my duties efficiently? Why can’t I express myself to my chosen circle of friends in a manner that I see fit without being judged by a potential employer?

With the exception of LinkedIn, social networks should not be used to gauge one’s ability, in social situations, to conduct themselves professionally. There certainly is no parallel. One cannot simply go to an interview and profess to being ‘themselves’ and being an ‘independent thinker’ who stands up for what they believe to be right and still nod to trimming down on what the potential employer might not like about how they choose to live their private lives outside work hours. There’s a prevalent element of dishonesty attached to that dialog.

This may not find popularity in the bowels of reason with many employers because many are attuned to the sentiments of John Rockefella who openly declared war on those who dare challenge the system in saying “I don’t want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers”.

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