Here at Vault, we've spent a lot of time talking about Snapchat recently, as we planned the launch of our own account. And, because we're always thinking about careers, one of the issues that came up was whether employers can, or should, be checking out a candidate's account as part of the hiring process. The quandary has been whether or not Snapchat should be viewed like any other social platform, on the same playing field as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, all of which are routinely scoped by employers when making hiring decisions. It could even be argued that due to its short-lived nature, a story on Snapchat is more personal than anything published on other social media pages.
That led to so much debate among our team that we decided to collect some of the opinions and publish them here.
Should employers base hiring decisions off an applicant's Snapchat and what are the implications of blocking or limiting an employer from seeing your content if they choose to follow you?
"Once an employer has access to your Snapchat, it would be hard for them to remove any judgement they may feel once viewing your story and seeing what your personal life is like. So, right or wrong, they will be making hiring decisions based off what they see. However, I feel strongly that they should not have access to seeing your Snapchat—that is your personal life, which should be separate from your work life. Snapchat is a way into seeing your friends' lives if they choose to share it, not your employer's tool to judge your character. I find no issue in having strict settings on Snapchat to avoid any conflict with future prospects as you should feel no pressure to share your personal life."
Jon, Gen X
"If an employer does choose to follow a job seeker on Snapchat, the same rules of any social media platform apply, so that Snapchat of your fun-filled day getting inebriated or shouting obscenities at friends can be grounds for that employer to scrap your application and look elsewhere to fill a position. If an employer tries to follow you and you block them, it sends a red flag to that employer, suggesting that you have something to hide and they could use your decision to help narrow the choices down. Snapchat is primarily for millennials who come from the oversharing culture, but employers are often not millennials and they will not, nor do they have to, give you a pass because of your generation.”
"I think Snapchat is a very personal form of social media that individuals choose to share with their close friends. Snapchat encompasses aspects of an individual’s life that they should be able to keep private from employers."
Derek, Gen X
"If the job's even remotely related to social media—in marketing or editorial, for example—then I think an employer has a good reason to check out an applicant's Snapchat, or any other social media accounts the applicant might have. Social media posts say a lot about a person's judgment, taste, manners, level of maturity, etc. That aside, I think it should be very clear to anyone old enough to be looking for a full-time job to understand that, given all the social media scandals, you should assume employers—or anyone else that might have a say in your livelihood—will see what you post. I'd recommend refraining from posting anything that you wouldn't want your employer, mother, or grandmother to see. As for blocking an employer on Snapchat, I think it's a good idea if you're unsure if what you're posting could affect you getting the job or not. While it might indicate to an employer that you could be hiding something, it's probably better that than risk employers seeing something they deem inappropriate—even if you think it’s good clean fun."
Phil, (cusp) Gen X/Y
"Probably not, unless it's for a job where Snapchat skills are a requirement; in that case they should be treating it as a portfolio. But for a non-Snapchat-related job, I think it's out of bounds for an employer to track you down, and I'd be wary about working for someone who did that. As for blocking them: completely acceptable, in my book. Imagining a scenario where I somehow had to check out a candidate's Snapchat, I'd probably view being blocked as a net positive: it's a sign that they know how to draw a line between personal and public content, which is way more relevant to me as a potential employer than what they're actually posting."
"I'd say employers should base their hiring decisions off an applicant's Snapchat only to the extent that the content can be considered a reflection on the applicant's ability to perform the duties the job requires. Especially when filling high-profile positions, I'd consider that kind of basic vetting a standard practice, and it'd be naïve of a candidate not to expect it, especially because there is a lot of social media content floating around that can quickly turn into a company's PR nightmare. I don't consider it an invasion of privacy for an employer to take a look for anything potentially relevant on a candidate's Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat. On the other hand, there should be zero implications to blocking an employer—it’s the equivalent of closing the door to your house. What you do behind closed doors is your business, though candidates shouldn't take it on faith that Snapchat privacy policies make for the most secure door."
And my own take:
“Although I’m aware that anything shared on any social media platform can be found by an employer, I would prefer to keep my Snapchat (and Instagram, for that matter) private. If an employer can’t get enough information about me from my resume, work, interview, and Facebook (which is intrusive enough on its own), then perhaps what they’re looking for is just not me. Snapchat is the latest social media platform that was invented to be just for friends, and although it will inevitably change in time and become less personal, it would be a consolation to know that for the time being, it can be as personal as we choose for it to be, and without facing consequences for protecting our privacy from employers.”
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