Monday, February 27, 2012

#dontcalluswellcallyou

Earlier today, I read an article about the emergence of what amounts to a "Facebook Score" for employers. (Alas, I can't find the article now, which was on CNN.com; it appears to be scrubbed from the site. Of course, it could also be due to the fact that when you type in "Facebook" in their search bar it returns with exactly zero results, so there's that.) When employers look for potential hires, they run some sort of algorithm that takes all of your Facebook statuses and converts it into some sort of a personality score that measures you, which I'm sure they convert into some sort of corporate speak like "Workplace Compatibility Index" but basically means "Are we going to hire this guy and have him shit the bed?"

[Edit: OK, mere moments after posting this I found the article, which wasn't where it was six hours ago. Stupid Internet.]

The article went on to describe some painfully obvious stuff, like writing violent things about your co-workers will not score very many points on the WCI, while "I wish that my boss could be President so everyone could love him as much as I" will act as a multiplier. Also, things such as "Wut UR up 2 2nit babby" are generally frowned upon. Also: duckfaces are bad.

This trend signifies two things that should be alarming to many. First is less dramatic; Facebook has, indeed, become our default profile for our lives. In some ways this can be good, since it presents a snapshot of our personalities in a convenient manner. On the other hand, at this point we have to strip it of all personality and make it a marketing tool, which more or less defeats the purpose of it. Because different entities are using it for two vastly different reasons--users use it to be creative and express themselves, while employers are treating it like a lazy man's resume--there is an inherent conflict. Unfortunately, getting a job and paying bills is always going to trump how many beers you chugged waiting for Van Halen to come on stage.

The second is the manifest difficulty of human resources. In case you don't know, HR is basically one big data mining shop. They zip your resume for keywords, where a vast majority will go into a trash bin with no human eyes ever looking at it. Now, of course, they are crunching the words you've used to express how you live your live into a discrete number, applying it towards your changes of making them money. Some of this makes sense--especially in a down economy, when managers are getting literally hundreds of resumes, there has to be a practical way of winnowing down the pile. There just isn't enough manpower. And, to be fair, once the candidate pool is small enough, all those numbers and keywords disappear and the more concrete items come into play, as they should. So I am sympathetic to the plight, and I'm not sure if there is a better solution.

Still, there's something remarkably creepy about having your future dictated by (what should be) a social media outlet you shouldn't think too much about. Is talking about Dancing With The Stars now going to be a detriment to your hiring chances? Dropping a mild expletive when your team loses counts as a strike against you? Social media has done a lot of good things, but it's always good to remember that there are several sides to everything that you post.

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