Official: Friending employers ill advised

Students should never add employers as friends on Facebook, a university official said.

John Thompson, executive director for Career Services, said “friending” employers can do more harm than good. He said he has seen no benefits to adding employers.

“You don’t want to have the kind of familiarity that the Facebook stuff implies,” Thompson said.

Most employers look at students’ profiles to help in the hiring process whether they admit it or not, Thompson said. The main deterrent for employers are inappropriate pictures, especially pictures involving alcohol.

According to a 2009 online reputation research study by Cross-Tab Marketing Services, 70 percent of job recruiters admitted to rejecting candidates based on online information. However, only 7 percent of consumers think online information affected their job search.

Hannah Achim, a senior political science and French major, said that she has maximized security on her Facebook profile just in case potential employers are looking. She said that she has heard of students changing their names on Facebook, but has never had to do anything that drastic.

“I don’t want to be accessible to anybody and everybody who’s out there just looking for people,” Achim said. “I’m not going to shy away from what my name is by hiding it.”

Scott Sullivan, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said that the department does not use Facebook as a source during hiring because of accuracy issues.

“You don’t know fact from fiction when you go on Facebook,” Sullivan said. “It’s a totally unreliable source.”

Molly Cravens, a junior strategic communications major, said she always weighs the risks before adding employers.

“We’re in college so there are things that are more acceptable to do that wouldn’t be acceptable in a professional workspace,” Cravens said.

Even though Facebook provides good security, she said, she recently deleted a lot of pictures that future employers may not find tasteful.

Employees and students are not the only ones in higher education who have had trouble with materials posted on Facebook pages.

Last month Gloria Gadsden, a sociology professor at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, was suspended after she made off-color jokes about wanting to hire a hitman to kill students, according to The Associated Press. Gadsden claimed she thought only friends could see the post because she had not added any students, but the post was available to be read by any member of the public.

Thompson said there is no specific policy about university employers adding employees.

“You just don’t want to do anything that’s going to compromise your own reputation,” Thompson said.