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Why employers shouldn't creep the Facebook pages of job applicants

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Jan. 6, 2014.

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Employers shouldn't rely on Facebook
Facebook may be a great place to check up on your friends, but it's a useless tool for employers who want to check up on job applicants, a new study suggests.

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The American study on social media also warns that creeping Facebook pages may discriminate in favour of women and white job applicants.

"Over all, the present findings cast serious doubts concerning the appropriateness of considering applicants' SM information (Facebook ratings in the current study) during the selection process," said researchers Chad Van Iddekinge of Florida State University, Stephen Lanivich of Old Dominion University, Philip Roth of Clemson University and Elliott Junco of Accenture.

"To date, there is little evidence to support the criterion-related validity of inferences based on SM assessments," they added in the paper being published in the Journal of Management.

"Our results also suggest there may be subgroup differences in such assessments that could lead to ethnicity-based adverse impact."

Their findings, published last month and also reported by Forbes, reject those of an earlier study.

In short, the study, which tracked 416 college kids who were hunting for work, found that creeping Facebook could not predict job performance, turnover intentions or turnover.

Facebook pages are meant to "network" with friends and family, not to measure attributes relevant to work, and, indeed, say much about what happens outside of an office. Add to that the "sheer volume" of information on Facebook pages, including photos and video postings.

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For that matter, Facebook profiles may contain false information because of the "desire to be perceived as socially desirable," while job applicants could also be "penalized" for what others post on their pages.

"In sum, although SM platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may contain some potentially job-relevant information, identifying and accurately rating this information could be quite difficult," the researchers said.

"Indeed, such platforms are not designed to elicit job-relevant information and, in fact, contain various types of job-irrelevant information that could influence judgments about applicants."

Home sales climb
Canada's housing market appears to have ended 2013 on a relatively strong note, with a number of major cities now reporting year-over-year sales gains for December and substantial increases in average selling prices, The Globe and Mail's Tara Perkins reports.

Toronto's real estate board said today sales of existing homes in and around the city last month were almost 14 per cent higher than a year earlier. The average price of homes that sold over the Multiple Listing Service during the month was $520,398, up by 8.9 per cent from the average selling price in December 2012.

The Calgary area saw an 8-per-cent year-over-year increase in sales last month. The benchmark price of a single family home was $472,200, up 8.6 per cent from a year earlier.

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Vancouver's housing market, which soared to become the most overvalued in the country and then underwent the steepest sales correction beginning in the spring of 2012, saw a 71 per cent year-over-year gain in sales in December. The MLS Home Price Index benchmark for all types of properties in the Vancouver area came in at $603,400, up 2.1 per cent from a year earlier.

Thai crisis slams markets
Thai markets barely avoided a 12th straight day of losses today as the deepening political crisis provokes a record-setting rout in shares and the national currency, The Globe and Mail's Nathan VanderKlippe reports from Bangkok.

For two months now, protesters have taken to Thailand's streets demanding a change in government. The lengthy series of demonstrations is expected to reach new heights of disruption next Monday, when protest leaders plan to "shut down" Bangkok in hopes of pushing out a political leadership they consider irredeemably corrupt.

But the optimism of the colourful downtown marches has been matched by the financial uncertainty they have sown, with the economically vital tourism industry warning of decreased visits, economists substantially paring back growth expectations and markets tipped into losses.

News to pick up
The year got off to something of a slow start last week, but this week brings some key economic reports, the kickoff to fourth-quarter earnings season, a key central bank meeting, and the always popular Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Jobs reports will be coming in from Canada, the United States and Europe, the key releases on Friday being the U.S. and Canadian numbers.

Economists expect to see that some 13,000 jobs were created in Canada last month, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 6.9 per cent. Job creation in the United States is expected to be about 191,000.

This week also brings a meeting of the European Central Bank, which recently cut its benchmark interest rate.

Earnings seasons begins, though with a slow start, as Alcoa Inc. releases its numbers on Thursday. As The Globe and Mail's Tim Shufelt reports, many companies have already warned that market expectations should be lower.

Also on tap, as The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad reports, is the technology industry's showcase gathering in Las Vegas.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More


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