If you want to get that slick job you’ve been gunning for, you might have to suffer a bit of snooping. According to recent news reports, employers are increasingly asking applicants for jobs to submit their user credentials or asking to watch while applicants peruse their own social media account.
The highly controversial practice is not-unheard-of. The Maryland Department of Communications suspended their policy of requesting Facebook login credentials from applicants after Maryland’s Public Safety Secretary, Gary Maynard, recieved a slew of emails and letters from the American Civil Liberties Union and other concerned parties.
While demanding applicants to cough up credentials may cross the line, shoulder surfing is an increasingly popular alternative that prospective employers are using to screen the online lives of applicants. According to a Time Magazine report, employers may simply ask an applicant to sign-in to their Facebook profile, and then watch while the applicant scrolls through posts, comments, photos and anything else.
Of course, applicants always have the option of refusing to participate, but applicants desperate for a job are likely to feel pressure to oblige. Hordes of jobless persons and the generally poor state of the economy creates a unique opportunity for employers, in which non-compliance, no matter the request, can be an employment death sentence.
“When you have a job market where there are more job seekers than hirers, you’re going to see things like demanding to see your Facebook wall because if you say no, someone else is waiting for that interview,” said Aleecia M. McDonald, a privacy researcher and resident Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, suggests that there is, in actuality, nothing consensual about Shoulder Surfing.
“The fact of the matter is, in a tight job market, if you’re looking for a job, you’re going to do anything you can to get that job,” he Told time. “If you feel most of the other applicants are going to be providing this information, you’re probably not going to be willing to say no.”
Stephens goes on to claim that deleting objectionable content from online profiles is becoming a standard in career-coaching advice.