Ben Smith, Steve Goetz: You Are Welcome To Our Facebook Passwords If You Turn Over Your FICO Score

Dear Employer. If you think our Facebook passwords are necessary to review our job applications, you are welcome to them. In exchange, we would like to see your FICO score and the recent credit applications of key executives.

Is this the next step in job candidate-employer relations?

Recently employers have begun asking job applicants for Facebook passwords under the assumption the social networking site will reveal the real story of who they are. We are not convinced.

Take my co-author, Steve Goetz, for instance. He is married, has a toddler and lives a fairly routine life. Employers would be bored out of their minds by the first page of his Facebook profile.

Dig back a few years and you may see a different story. But does it really matter that someone dressed like Jimmy Connors in ridiculously short tennis shorts and carrying a wooden tennis racquet ran in the Bay to Breakers race 10 years ago? We think not.

Let’s give employers the benefit of the doubt. We assume they are trying to achieve a more candid representation of candidates in order to gauge how “responsible” they may be and how they would represent the business.  Is the job candidate ethical?  Do their actions reflect core company values?  Would the business be harmed by this person’s actions?  Can I trust this person to make me (the hiring manager) look good?  All fair questions when looking out for the best interest of the business.

The question then becomes are “we” employers willing to reciprocate?  We meaning the executive team, the board, the full measure of the organization.  Collectively we are asking candidates to put their faith in us, in the company execs and the board to be the financial stewards of the organization, to insure we are properly funded and staffed to deliver the greatest financial return. We are asking them to believe we will remain motivated with clear direction and good intent.  If we fail in any of these tasks, we put the candidate and their family at risk, and we jeopardize our employees’ livelihood and their ability to achieve the American dream.

As candidates, we’ll gladly give you access to our Facebook accounts. We’d like to think our fiscal responsibility at home really doesn’t impact our fiscal responsibility at work, but perhaps it does. However as employers, are we willing to turn over our FICO scores and a completed credit application from every member of the executive team and board? Perhaps we have reached a point in the modern employer-employee relationship where some kind of good faith disclosure by employers showing credit worthiness is necessary.

In other words, in the event these disclosures become routine, what do you think we employers should be prepared to provide to job candidates that allow them to evaluate our fiscal responsibility?  As you chew this over, here is another thought.

Should they become routine, what is next? Where will the next battleground be drawn? Here is our suggestion on where it should not be, as absurd as some of this will sound:

  • No, you can not ask for the login to my match.com account.
  • No, you can not come by and open my mail.
  • No, you can not look at the last ten phone calls I made,.
  • And no, you can’t see my old Flickr account, should I even be able to remember the password.

Instead, try these tried and true methods:

  • Talk to people who worked with me before. Yes, some of them don’t like my haircut and a few other things.
  • Do a quality interview where we really get to know each other.
  • Review some of my prior work and ask about what I learned.
  • Spend a little time with me in informal settings.
  • Have me hang out at the office and mingle with employees. Don’t just stick me in a back room to interview.
  • And of course, feel free to check me on out LinkedIn and Google, and ask me about interesting stories from my experiences.

(Steve Goetz (pictured above) has worked in business development at MerchantCircle, and Excite@home and was the founder of Gardner Design Group. Ben T. Smith, IV (pictured top) is CEO of ShopCo, backed by 12 of the major newspaper groups; a Venture Partner at Accelerator Ventures; and a serial entrepreneur, investor, and advisor to technology and media companies. He is the co-founder of MerchantCircle.com and Spoke.com, and a former partner at A.T. Kearney. Ben is available on btsiv.com.)

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