Get Out of My Face(book)

If HR used brute force and accessed my personal Facebook page, they would learn the following things about me:

1. Sometimes I wish I were traveling and not in work. Oh, the humanity!

2. My source of news is People.com.

3. I frequently travel—and take pictures—with a one-inch plastic baby boy affectionately known as D Money.

4. Last week I accidentally zippered a piece of neck skin in my coat and my life flashed before my eyes.

5. I once had a dream that I hung out with Sasha Obama for the day. (In case you're wondering, she is awesome and hilarious—and a bit mischievous.)

6. I buy a lot of Groupons, which inevitably expire before I use them.

7. On August 26, 2012, a very unflattering picture of me shoving a piece of cake in my mouth while holding an adult beverage was uploaded.

8. My dream of one day joining a bowling league predominately comprised of 52-year-olds from Milwaukee became a reality this year.

9. I once brought a container of leftover broccoli to an outdoor BYOB event. Friends were displeased.

10. Halloween makes me feel alive.

Now, if someone doesn’t deem me fit to be hired based on such Facebook activity, I don’t know what to tell you. None of the above has anything to do with my ability as a staff writer—with the possible exception of my people.com habit.

But in today’s social-media saturated world, the sweeping popularity of online social networks has affected most facets of personal and business life. HR is no different, and companies are seeking guidance on acceptable recruitment and retention practices in the face of so much sharing.

According to B. Kevin Thompson’s article, “Sorting Out Social Media for HR,” one common thread causing concern for both enthusiastic users and avowed technophobes revolves around the confusion about the limits, laws and standards that govern the social media landscape.

HR standards, policies and strategies are unsettled, still forming, absent hard-and-fast legal basis, Thompson says. Even the National Labor Review Board (NLRB)’s interpretations of social media and the 21st century workplace are evolving every day or, worse yet, have never even been identified. So where does this leave companies when it comes to key HR issues, like social media policy, applicant social background checks and social recruiting?

While 73 percent of the recruiters polled say they have hired a candidate through social networks, an almost equal percentage (69 percent) have rejected a candidate because of what they saw on his or her social site—a practice that may not be entirely legal. It was one piece of cake and one beer, people!

For corporate recruiters, the red flags go up at the mention of illegal drug use, sexual posts, profanity, poor grammar (which may or may not be related to profanity) and alcohol. Of interest is that, while most recruiters have a “neutral” opinion of a candidate’s political and religious posts (62 percent and 53 percent, respectfully) that leaves others who obviously are swayed positively or negatively by these personal views and opinions.

Where’s the ethical line being drawn? Could my Sasha Obama dream be construed as a (detrimental) political post? We were only playing one or two pranks on Malia. I swear!

For more, check out the article, “Sorting Out Social Media for HR,” in the April issue of units Magazine, which mails April. 11.