In an article in today’s Financial Times, Benjamin Akande of Webster University talks about the “iPoders” – the generation born between 1982 and 2000. He describes a generation of technology addicts, using the internet as its first resort for information-gathering, and nurturing personal relationships through social networking and twittering. According to Akande, as it enters the workforce this cohort will be looking for organisations that share its appetite for technological innovation.
One issue that Akande doesn’t discuss is how iPoders view their personal privacy. How will they react if their technology-aware future employers treat Facebook and MySpace as a legitimate part of pre-recruitment due diligence? It’s often suggested that today’s 20-somethings are deeply relaxed about information privacy. A more realistic view may be that, as early adopters of social networking technology, they are learning the hard way about the implications of putting personal information online. In 2007, Oxford University students were outraged when photographs on Facebook were used in order to crack down on post-exam celebrations.
At the same time, employers need to be cautious about googling their job applicants. For instance, interview panels know not to ask questions about any plans for starting a family. But what if one of the interviewers finds out information of this kind, from his online researches into the candidates? Unless the information is wholly disregarded, there is an obvious risk of a discrimination claim if the candidate is rejected.