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Are Employers Misunderstanding Facebook Posts?

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Newresearch out of NC State shows it might not be smart for employers to rely so heavily on social network sites to write off potential candidates.  Yes, you can find almost anything on the internet, including videos like this one on on how to prepare for an employer’s social network check.

“Scan your profiles for any content a potential employer might not like, offensive content, posts related to drinking or drugs.”

Of course, assumptions will be made. NC-State Psychology Professor Lori Foster Thompson says a Facebook search of party photos doesn’t check for conscientiousness. 

“If you are weeding out the people who have done so on their Facebook, this study shows that you are screening out some of your more extroverted applicants which in some cases might be the people you are looking for,” said Thompson.

Thompson co-authored these findings published this week online in, Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.  The name of the paper is "Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants' Social Media Postings."  Researchers tested 175 young job applicants and measured the personality traits that companies generally look for.  They include conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion. 

Will Stoughton is a Ph.D. candidate at NC State and a co-author of the paper.

"I think we were definitely surprised by the conscientiousness finding that there was no correlation with drug and alcohol postings," said Stoughton.  "It really showed that people high on conscientiousness are just as likely to post about chugging a beer or doing drugs as somebody low on conscientiousness."

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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