Home > Employment > Should I give a Prospective Employer my Facebook Password?

Should I give a Prospective Employer my Facebook Password?

Facebook Login image

I recently gave a talk to some of our students on Social Networks and how to use them in your job search. There was a mixed bunch experience-wise; from those who had an understanding of the risks involved in an online presence to those who had no online presence at all. It was great to have an assortment of questions, ideas and anecdotes shared with the group. One of the questions on privacy reminded me of a conversation I had with my colleague Helen when we saw reports that some employers had asked job seekers for their usernames and passwords to their Facebook account. Below I’ve paraphrased the conversation:

Jerome – What would you say to an employer asking for your login details?

Helen – It’s a difficult situation, do you just say no and jeopardise your chance of securing the job or allow them to view something that’s intended to be private? I think the first thing to consider is whether you would like to work for an employer that thinks it’s okay to ask for this sort of information to begin with.

J – Very true. Some companies may see it as a justifiable way to find out about you. If you say no, it could be seen as defensive, in that you have something to hide.

H –   If you want to proceed with your application you could think of a way to say no politely. You might say: “I am very careful with my online profile and do not feel comfortable giving out my password. However feel free to look at my profile as it appears to you as a company, if you would like.”

J – Then you need to be sure about what is on your public profile but at least your private information is secure. I think this is what bothers me most, that they’re not only requesting access to your private information but also to that information of your contacts. As your friend on Facebook, I have a reasonable expectation of privacy from those I haven’t added, this circumvents that.

H – I think it would be more likely that it is the employers way of finding out what kind of person you are.

J – True but it’s still snooping in a private sphere. I wouldn’t let a prospective employer read my emails or text messages in order to get a job. It should be more relevant how I am professionally, not privately.

H – Then another tactic would be to refer the employer to a professional profile you are happy for them to view, for instance LinkedIn. You could say: “My LinkedIn page is a great place for you to review my professional skills and experience and see the connections I have that may be of benefit to your organisation.”

J – And if they say they’ve already seen it, they want to see your ‘private side’?

H – Then you may wish to consider if they are a good employer to work with! Actually, if you are applying for a legal role this could be a test to see how you respond to requests for data. Giving out your Facebook login is a violation of their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities…

Privacy Keyboard image
Employers can’t legally force you to give out your login details so it could all come down to how you respond to the request. Saying no in a way so as not to offend or discourage is a very marketable skill, especially in management, so use this opportunity to show this.

Have your responses in place;

  • Offer your LinkedIn profile as a substitute
  • Make sure your public information shows a professional side to you
  • Or learn how to politely decline perhaps by suggesting that, whilst you have nothing to hide, you are not comfortable betraying the trust of your contacts

Have you had a similar situation where an employer has asked for personal information? Leave your experience in the comments box below.


Photo Credit: g4ll4is via cc


Helen Meyer photograph

Helen Meyer is a Careers Advisor in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire


Jerome Price Photograph

Jerome Price is the Online and Digital Content Manager in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire

  1. 06/11/2013 at 14:16

    I don’t think that anyone should work for a company that asks you for any passwords! But if you’re still keen an easy option is to offer to be accepted to be a ‘friend’ by the person asking, then they can snoop all they want (plus you can see what they’ve been up to). You can even set that new friend in a limited access group so you can hide the pictures of you in the hot tub with 15 people.

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