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Social Media and the Job Search

Updated on March 25, 2015

One of the key concepts covered in the material for this module is privacy and access to information. For this discussion, read “The Writing on the (Facebook) Wall” and watch “Employers Turning to Social Media in Hiring Process.” Then submit a post arguing for or against employers using social media sites as a tool to screen job candidates. Along with discussing the implications of this growing practice, your replies must address how privacy is affected by this practice, drawing on the course resources to shape your responses.

Prior to reading “The Writing on the (Facebook) Wall” and “Friend or Foe? The Promise and Pitfalls of Using Social Networking Sites for HR Decisions” I was under the impression that there were concrete ways to use social media for hiring. After reading the two articles it seems to me that there is no real science to using social media for hiring. Currently there is no formalized rubric for gathering and evaluating the information from social networking sites (Brown & Vaughn, 2011, p. 222). The article, “Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants’ Social Media Postings” by J. William Stoughton, Lori Foster Thompson, and Adam W. Meade concluded that extraverted candidates were predisposed to post on social media about alcohol and drugs; while participants that were low in agreeableness were particularly prone to engaging in badmouthing behaviors online through social media. This leads me to believe that employers should not being using social media sites as a tool to screen job candidates because the only thing that employers are learning is how prone their employees are to badmouthing behaviors, posting about alcohol, and posting about drugs. There is as of yet no concrete way to learn anything for certain about potential job candidates from their social media postings. The employer would only come away with a view of how the person behaves outside of a work environment.

The practice of utilizing social media sites as a tool to screen job candidates may at some point be made into an actual science with a formalized rubric for evaluating a person’s fit for a specific position. However until that point it appears as if employers and Human Resources are simply making their own guess about each candidate based on their social media accounts. While it is not a privacy violation for employers to view the social media accounts that are not locked with privacy settings, it is a privacy violation for employers to demand usernames and passwords from their candidates to any and all of their social media accounts. I also believe that employers should refrain from disciplining their employees based on what their employees do on social media unless that employee signed a contract on abstaining from certain social media behaviors. Social media should not be used as a base for Human Resources decisions because the information posted to social media can often be taken out of context. For example Davison et al. (2011) writes about how an employee of the ABC Company was fired because his tweet on how he disliked working for the company and was planning to leave as soon as he located a different job. In this situation the employee was let go because he ranted about his frustration on twitter; if the employee had said the same thing to a friend in person or through a phone call he would not have been fired; yet he was fired because of where he chose to rant. I feel that firing and hiring should not be based on social media posts unless that post shows the person doing something illegal.


Brown, V. R., & Vaughn, E. D. (2011). The writing on the (facebook) wall: The use of social networking sites in hiring decisions. Journal of Business and Psychology, 26(2), 219-225.://

Davison, H. K., Maraist, C., & Bing, M. N. (2011). Friend or foe? the promise and pitfalls of using social networking sites for HR decisions. Journal of Business and Psychology, 26(2), 153-159. doi:

Stoughton, J. W., Thompson, L. F., & Meade, A. W. (2013). Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants' Social Media Postings. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 16(11), 800-805. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0163

There is no denying that the internet and social media have become prevalent in today’s world. Given how much these technologies touch multiple strands of individual and societal life, it is imperative that you gain a historical understanding of these technologies and comprehend the implications that these technologies create. This module will enable you to think critically beyond the everyday consumption of social media and to consider the ways in which these technologies are used by organizations, governments, and other agencies. Additionally, you will analyze the functional utility of the plethora of social media platforms available and assess circumstances in which one platform may have more benefit than another.
Some of the important concepts and terms introduced by Sterin (2014) include the following:
New Media: Term that describes all interactive, digital, and converged media on the internet.
Web 1.0: Digital publishing and distribution and early forms of email communication.
Web 2.0: Also known as “the new new media,” includes user participation via network creativity and content sharing.
Viral Media: Media message shared through rapid replication via the internet.
Cloud Computing: Delivery and use of applications and file and data storage capacity as networked internet-based services, as opposed to these being stored on an individual’s computer.
SMS: Short Message Service, another name for texting.
Open Source Model: An approach to content production and management that permits easy, widespread access to information.
Content Mobility: Also known as three-screen convergence, an approach that supports relatively seamless transferring of video content between digital television, personal computers, and mobile devices.

Digital Natives: A term coined by Harvard professor John Palfrey in reference to the first generation to grow up in a world where digital technologies and the internet were already in existence.
Online Social Networking: Digital environments that allow people to create public profiles for multiple forms of community interactions via the internet.
Social Media: Activities, practices, and behaviors among communities of people who gather online to share information, knowledge, and opinions using conversational media (Safko & Brake, 2009).
Conversational Media: Web-based applications that make it possible to easily transmit content in the form of words, pictures, videos, and audio.
Microblogging: A short form of blogging, such as Twitter.
Life-Blogging: The act of sharing the minutia of one’s daily life in a very public forum.
Virtual Reality: A computer-simulated environment.
Immersive Virtual Reality: The purist form of virtual reality, combining sophisticated interactive appliances with realistic, computer-generated environments, thereby engaging most of the human senses.


Safko, L., & Brake, D. K. (2009). The social media bible: Tactics, tools & strategies for business success.

Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. Sterin, J. C. (2014). Mass media revolution (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


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