I'm sure anyone who reads the paper or browses the online edition has had a hard time missing the enormous ad for a new sports editor at The Evening Sun. The ad runs daily in the classifieds section – and again in the sports section for good measure – and has since the paper's current sports editor, Pat Newell, announced his impending departure for Albuquerque last month.
Now that Pat's preparing to ride off into the sunset (so to speak), our search for his replacement has come down to the wire. Over the past few weeks, The Evening Sun editor and news crew have been sifting through a stack of resumés in hopes of finding the next Bob Costas of Chenango County – someone who can not only handle the duties of watching and analyzing sporting events, but also write about them and in their own magical way, make them interesting on paper. Mind you, there's no shortage of applicants and more come in every week. And with so many people throwing their hat in the ring, we've been doing what any sensible employer would do: We Facebook stalked each and every one of them.
It's the very definition of irony that in the golden age of technology, when people are sensitive to their own privacy and increasingly aware of overreaching government surveillance, that they have no problem posting details of their life to Facebook. For us at The Evening Sun, the social networking site has become a prime source to find a candidate for the sports editor position who's worthy of an interview (I should note that an applicant who has a red Solo cup in their hand in almost every one of their profile pics need not wait by the phone).
For 10 years now, Facebook has built a business based on personal information, covering everything from one's personal philosophical views to the kind of underwear they like. From an employer's perspective, there's certainly no shortage of information when it comes to potential interviewees. Just think of the information we mindlessly hand over: where we live, our marital status, phone, email, date of birth, friends, current and previous employment, favorite books and movies, past and present relationships, religious views, gender, political values, friends, events we plan on attending, photos, major life events... and of course, those flattering drunken selfies. It's no wonder Facebook stalking is a trend among so many employers; it's twice as easy and twice as efficient than reading a hardcopy resumé.
Yes, like it or not, Facebook's a valuable tool for today's employer. In 2012, The Journal of Applied Social Psychology published a study which suggested one's Facebook page is a reflection of how good a fit they are with a job. Researchers asked HR types to rate hundreds of college students' Facebook pages according to their first impressions of employability and then determine if they would call that person for an interview. If a candidate’s information was on Facebook, it was fair game.
Interesting enough, researchers particularly noted there was a correlation between a potential candidate's overemotional posts and their chances of scoring a job interview. At the same time, candidates with lots of photos of friends seemed more gregarious, outgoing and easy to work with.
I guess what it comes down to is the fact that Facebook has become the “real” first interview for many employers. I can say this hasn't been the case in the search for a new sports editor at The Evening Sun, but that doesn't stop us from stalking. Personally, I think a candidate should be smart enough to set their Facebook settings to high. Never underestimate the power of a Google search.