By: Poonam Khatri
Recently, there has been a disturbing trend of employers asking job applicants for their social media passwords. Many ask: should this practice be legal? Not so, says the Illinois House of Representatives, which recently approved legislation that would prohibit employers from demanding passwords or ordering workers and applicants to sign into their accounts for review. House bill 3783 must now be approved by the Illinois Senate.
Although this is a good sign for employees, under the proposed bill, bosses may still ask for usernames to view public information online. In addition, employers can monitor work-owned computers and enforce workplace technology policies.
Regardless of whether this bill passes or not, there are steps you can take to better protect yourself:
1. Know what's out there.
Google yourself and see what's out there. If there is anything questionable, you can proactively remove it or have an explanation ready.
2. Set your profile to private.
Many social media sites have privacy settings that make your profile private, or at least limit what the public can view.
3. Screen people who want to connect with you.
Don't add people you've never met or don't recognize. You never know who might be connected to your interviewer.
4. Try not to include too many personal details, such as your religious or political views.
Although current laws prohibit employers from considering protected information, such as sexual orientation or religious views, it's better to not volunteer such information to ensure its not consciously or subconsciously used as hiring criteria.
5. Use Social Media to define your personal brand.
Although you should protect yourself, don't be scared to use social media to your advantage. Use social media to define your personal brand. Keep your online presence professional and seek to provide content that demonstrates your intelligence and professional skills.