Does Not Having a Facebook Page Make You ‘Suspicious’ to Employers?

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Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images

A computer screen displaying the Facebook logo is reflected in a window before the Beijing skyline on May 16, 2012

Remember when the debate over “shoulder surfing” — that is, companies requiring job applicants to log into their social-media accounts so the interviewer could examine the applicant’s page in full — flared up earlier this year? At the time, a common response from readers was that they’d simply delete or deactivate their Facebook pages or make them unsearchable and then deny having an account. Well, here comes the bad news: not having a Facebook page can be detrimental to job seekers.

People without Facebook pages, in particular, are viewed as “suspicious” by hiring managers, according to Forbes. The article says,

I’ve heard both job seekers and employers wonder aloud about what it means if a job candidate doesn’t have a Facebook account. Does it mean they deactivated it because it was full of red flags? Are they hiding something? … It does seem that increasingly, it’s expected that everyone is on Facebook in some capacity, and that a negative assumption is starting to arise about those who reject the Big Blue Giant’s siren call.

According to a new study from recruitment-technology firm Jobvite, a whopping 92% of recruiters use social media today. Although LinkedIn is the most popular destination, two-thirds of respondents say they now use Facebook and more than half say they use Twitter.

(MORE: Facebook Weighs In and Blasts ‘Shoulder Surfing’ by Employers)

In a recent article, German media outlet Tagesspiegel kicked up a controversy in its exploration of what not having a social-media presence says about you. It quotes a psychologist who says (translated from German via Google Translate), “The Internet has become a natural part of life … It is possible that you get with virtual friends and feelings of positive feedback.” The article then goes on to point out that perpetrators of two mass shootings (James Holmes in Colorado and Anders Breivik in Norway) were both ciphers on major social-media sites and suggests that such “absolute abstinence” from social-media sites indicates a possibly dangerous level of withdrawal from society.

Or, as tech blog Slashdot summed it up (with implied skepticism): “Not having a Facebook account could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer.”

(MORE: Can Interviewers Insist on ‘Shoulder Surfing’ Your Facebook Page?)

That’s hyperbolic, of course, but there is a small amount of evidence to suggest that people who use social-media sites in moderation are more likely to be emotionally healthy: a study of more than 7,200 young people published last year in the journal Pediatrics found that adolescents who say they never or hardly ever use the Internet are more likely to be depressed than moderate users.

The real point, however, is less about the reality of a link between social-media use and emotional fitness, and more about the evolving perceptions of employers. It’s increasingly clear that recruiters have a set of expectations about a would-be employee’s social-media presence, and it’s worth keeping that in mind as you go about shaping your online identity.

39 comments
jlynnmorris97
jlynnmorris97

I dont think not having a facebook would make you suspicous. There are reasons people dont have or want facebook. How does that make them suspicous? What if they don't like facebook? So they deleted their account. Or what if they don't understand the point to have facebook? Facebook has no real point to it. It was really made to connect with friend not be suspicous.

How does not having a facebook make you suspicous? The person doesn't have friends or is connected with their friends a different way, that makes you suspicous? Facebook is for friends and family, not suspicous.

AnthonyGriffin2
AnthonyGriffin2

I just got me a facebook four years ago and I didnt even make it myself. My mom made it for me and told me i needed one. Personally, I do not care about having a social media account. They are not that much of big deal to me and I can go without having one. I feel that making an account only makes my privacy level go down and I do not like people in my business.

If i wanted people in my business and I didnt like my privacy I would still be friends and I would tell the whole world about everything that goes on when it happens in my life. I dont understand why people depend on social media anyway, it isnt all that great to me. It's just a way for people who dont know you to be in your business and know you without knowing you.

I do not find it a suspicious thing that some people do not have a facebook. They may be people like me and not be into social media. It should not be a way that people look up employees or get more information on people. Everybody should be equally looked at by their work not their personal life by no means at all.

BarbaraTweetz
BarbaraTweetz

This article is absolutely ridiculous! I would like to suggest that people who are on social media sites CONSTANTLY are dangerously removed for REALITY.

awacsee
awacsee

If an employee is suspicious that you don't have Facebook page they are not worth working for.

PERCY737291
PERCY737291

I have never had a facebook account.  I hoped to never have a facebook account.  I realized when I read the March 9, 2012 article that I may have to do a basic facebook account  I value my privacy very highly.  I don't want to connect with old boyfriends or old school mates who are out of my life, for a reason.  (We would still be in touch if there was not a reason.)  I am planning to move cross country and I realize it would seem strange to perspective employers that I have no interest in people I would probably never meet in real life.  I realize it would seem strange I don't want to keep in touch with past lovers or casual friends from 20 years ago.  I realize it would seem strange that I don't want to waste my free time chatting with people who make up half of their lives so they can feel important and better then other people.  I live in the real world, not facebook land. 

Scott A McGreal
Scott A McGreal

The reporting of the Pediatrics study here seems biased. There is no mention that heavy users were also more likely than moderate users to be depressed. Additionally, the study reports only on internet use generally, not social networking. 

Employers who are "suspicious" of people without Facebook accounts might want to to consider findings of studies that people with Facebook accounts tend to be more narcissistic and less conscientious (i.e. hard-working and self-disciplined) than non-users. See this summary for example:

http://scottsworlds.blogspot.c... 

Aegize
Aegize

I don't think so... If you don't have facebook, google Plus or even LinkedIn; it doesn't make you any less desirable. the communication skills and family responsibilities can obviously weigh more than social networking in such crucial financial times.

Forth_Amendment
Forth_Amendment

and i find it suspicious when Facebook can use every app imaginable to find out everything about our lives.  maybe you should of thought that through about some people not willing to post information online ya prick.

Kevin Stern
Kevin Stern

Considering how paranoid companies are over what you might potentially post on social media about them, you'd think they'd want nonFacebook users and such over users.  Can't post negatively on an account you don't have.

mugshotoflife
mugshotoflife

If anyone has had the misfortune to suffer the emotional distress of

being stalked or raped, then they will understand what a driving

motive it is for some people not to have a facebook account.

Stalking is a form of emotional rape.

Like sexual rape, there is a "blame the victim" attitude

among situation-ally ignorant people (like HR personnel perusing

resume's). It is currently legal to fire someone "controversial".

With our current information age and "sunshine" laws,

anyone who seeks justice can be neatly screened out of the

application process because of a prevailing belief in HR that anyone

who pursues a lawsuit will be more likely to sue them in the future.

Its all part of the risk management aspect of their job.

Some employers complain that there are

not enough qualified applicants for jobs they are offering. When you

look deeper you can see why they are ineffective in attracting those

qualified applicants who do eagerly look to earn a living wage. HR is

so committed to looking for the “right” looking resume' that they

are easily distracted by irrelevant information. Some of these

distractions include the lack of a facebook account, an applicants

refusal to be extorted by a mugshot online website, they fact that

the applicant was formerly employed by a company that went out of

business through no fault of the applicant.

Its unfortunate that people who are

obviously incompetent, like the HR people who can not

fill positions that their company needs filled, are not put in the

pool of the unemployed and instead replaced by people who understand

a bit more about business than they do.

Taxpyer
Taxpyer

"...suggests that such “absolute abstinence” from social-media sites

indicates a possibly dangerous level of withdrawal from society."

So I can have a Facebook account and continue to fool everybody while I am really a out of work bum who has no friends and surfs porn all day long?

Geekized
Geekized

It's none of an employer's business what I do when I'm off the clock and that includes social media. Any company that bases its hiring criteria on the contents of a *personal* Facebook account seriously needs to examine its priorities. 

KOBE SBM
KOBE SBM

LOL! This shilling for Facebook here and some other sites picking up on this meme is most amusing. I had a Facebook account which I deleted after a year for security concerns. I would not want to do work for a client who requested access to my Facebook account or used it in ANY capacity to assess employability or judge my character. Isnt that what resumes, background checks and references are for? 

Imagine if MySpace was still going...would employers be assessing their candidates based on their MySpace profiles? I think not. No, what I see here is a DESPERATE and transparent attempt from Facebook to plug that ever-widening hole through which MILLIONS of people are exiting the Facebook circus. Facebook's future is MySpace's past. 

Taiman
Taiman

I'm eating a cheese sandwich!

DQ CARBON(大庆高新国际工贸)
DQ CARBON(大庆高新国际工贸)

Everything has two coins. Facebook is a good way to know the outside world quickly. we get many information on it, happy or disappeared events..it would be our best partner If we use it  effective ly .

cWalkIn
cWalkIn

I find it "suspicious" that employees don't turn the social medial spotlight on their prospective employers more often.  Mark my words, the nano second the unemployment rate starts falling considerably (if it ever does), potential employees will be using these same technologies much more frequently to rate and review former and potential employers when considering who they want to devote their time and talent to.  Sites that let people anonymously rate their companies are extremely important towards protecting the liberties and individual goals of career-makers, and the only real way to know whether the company you're interviewing for has what you want in a job is by asking their past and present employees in a forum that is safe from naming names for the Orwellian-wannabe eyes of HR.  Just pointing out that the powers of the Internet swing both ways.

Phoenix31756
Phoenix31756

Facebook might as well be known as " Whistle-blowers Hangout" !

Or maybe, Snitch-On-Your-Friend, type of thing.

Sooner or later, Facebook will meet it's ultimate death via it's only strangulation of itself !  

Louise_SA
Louise_SA

Ben Elton wrote a book called "Blind Faith", in which privacy has become the ultimate apostasy.  Looks like he may have had a crystal ball.  Read it and tremble...

Yoshi_1
Yoshi_1

In the words of Betty White: "What a colossal waste of time".

As "Fark" goes, this story is a very good example of  " product placement masquerading as news".

hot_pants
hot_pants

Worst written article I've ever read on this website.

Google translate as a translation source are you kidding me?

Not having a Facebook as a plausible indicator for being a mass murderer? Wow.

You legitimately sound like a social networking swampdonkey.

Fatesrider
Fatesrider

I run a small business.  Facebook users are not on my list of people to hire for reasons Major_Major went into.  I can't believe any business that wants to STAY in business would base ANY hiring decision on the existence of a Facebook account.

Company policies and employee training should tell new hires whether or not it's okay to waste company productivity time on Facebook - a far greater problem than being a perceived social outcast because they don't have a Facebook account.  Although a lot of recruiters use social media, it's only because it's a way to quickly find someone instead of (gasp!) reading a stack of paper resumes.

In other words, these recruiters (who, by the way, are NOT HR people, but headhunters looking for a way to make a buck) are f*cking lazy.  They're not looking for unemployed people.  They're looking to take a productive person away from one company to work for another company for a finder's fee.  The unemployed can suck swamp water as far as they're concerned.  Social media facilitates that search because if someone is dissatisfied by their job, they tend to say so online (like idiots).

This entire article is BS, based on an erroneous premise and supported by little more than hearsay.  The author should be ashamed of herself, though I suspect she will continue to be paid to write more poorly researched and even poorer thought out articles like this.

vstillwell
vstillwell

So, basically, the corporate world--which, for the most part, blathers on and on about finding people who think outside the box and love to upend things--wants candidates who fit neatly inside a boring little box. Corps in the country are absurd, stale and out of date.

US_Army_Veteran
US_Army_Veteran

This is so silly, if the employer acts like this then run, and run fast. Nobody needs to work for a company that is going to dictate what you should do in your personal life. Are people really that stupid? 

dialyn
dialyn

Forcing people to use Facebook says more about the shallow thinking of the company than it does for the people not wasting time updating their cat pictures.  

JuanPedro Philippine
JuanPedro Philippine

This is ridiculous. Have you read the study about the relation between efficiency at work and being hooked to social media? People who choose to live their lives in reality rather than virtually, are those who are emotionally stable, me thinks. Besides, too information is nauseating. I don't need to know that you are having a quandary on what to order in a resto or whether you are so happy because you saw this bag in a sale.....In other words, people who spent real time with friends and family have the EQ and IQ to know that over dependence on virtual reality isn't healthy. The mark of a true social and people skills is in their ability to connect with real people. FB is ok to those who like it but do not hype or imply that tose who do not like it are socially inept.

miakotamatsue
miakotamatsue

Why would anyone want to work for these type of companies that are that paranoid? These companies don't realize that the only people who they end up hiring are desparate people who can't find any other jobs and will jump ship as soon as another job comes by. So do me a favor and not hire me.

Major_Major
Major_Major

I call BS on this story. First of all, I'd be "suspicious" of any employer who found it "suspicious" that I didn't have a Facebook page. Second, the sourcing on this story amounts to "I overheard a discussion by some guy who writes for another Internet site". Third, I am wary of any attempts to force people onto Facebook as the motivation is most likely not concern for people looking for jobs but for getting more people onto Facebook to help their floundering stock. Fourth, if employers are smart, they'd be happy to have employees who aren't wasting time on Facebook at all as it guarantees they won't be wasting company time fooling around on Facebook. And lastly, last I checked, "freedom of speech" did by default include the "freedom to not speak", and that should include "speaking" on Facebook. When it is all done, I'll be really surprised if Facebook is even still a "thing" in 10 years, and all these people making a living off of writing junk BS articles about the need to be on Facebook to get a job will be collecting unemployment. Time Magazine really has jumped the shark.

Collider
Collider

Let's say from 100 of my "friends" on FB -75% never post anything, 20% once in a blue moon, and the 5% who do post regularly are a bunch of dumb trolls who have no life. From what I have noticed those who do use FB often are emotionally-mentally unhealthy..

Personally, I use FB only as a contact list, nothing more..

curls0821
curls0821

I'm not on Facebook because I'm tired of seeing people's stupid, ugly children and reading post after post about how so-and-so is sitting in traffic.

undrgrndgirl
undrgrndgirl

facebook smacebook. i refuse social media (with the exception of being fooled into disqus by alternet)

Talendria
Talendria

You have GOT to be kidding me.  I'd love to see the IQ distribution of Facebook users.

Ktowngreenery
Ktowngreenery

Face book is time consuming and it got boring I shut mine down two years ago.

applesauce585
applesauce585

I was on facebook for 1 year, I didn't get it! LOL

Maybe I'm just too "oldschool", I closed account.  When i see people they ask are you on facebook still "NO", i just didn't get it! Maybe it's just me, lol.

orsay
orsay

Couldn't agree more with you! Am do sick of these BS articles!

And..the media wonders why we TRASH them, all the time!

Totally, utterly, RIDICULOUS!

Valaria Duckworth
Valaria Duckworth

 In Illinois they passed a law banning the requirement that you give your social media user name.  I'd never want to work for a company so woefully inefficient and petty, even as a "young worker" with the demand for a job and desperation so high, it's more than ridiculous for an HR rep (a person) to creep through my Facebook on some ego-driven personality contest to make their own personal assessments. O, and my age, political affiliation, sexual orientation are all there - the questions they aren't allowed to ask you.  We're desperate, not that desperate, and not that stupid.

And we jump from whether Facebook makes you look "bad" to a petty employer...to mass murderers because, essentially they're a "lame" or a "loser" if they don't have a Facebook, then a random inconclusive tie in at the end.

Facebook's been around for...6 years? We're making MENTAL HEALTH predicated on a FAD - as a psychology student, I would love to see that "study" and get a good laugh.

Marisolbbh
Marisolbbh

Margaret responded I cannot believe that some people can make $4808 in 4 weeks on the network. did you see this(Click on menu Home)

5IA
5IA

I agree. The fact that the press is trying to propagate the idea that not being on Facebook is a bad thing, all while Facebook's stock is tanking, is very suspicious considering that it was the press that was responsible for over-hyping the IPO in the first place. 

Also, I love how the author attempts to connect a psychologists theory from the German article (“The Internet has become a natural part of life … It is possible that you get with virtual friends and feelings of positive feedback") with the opinion of a blogger ("Or, as tech blog Slashdot summed it up (with implied skepticism): “Not having a Facebook account could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer") to give the bloggers obviously absurd opinion an air of legitimacy.