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What If An Employer Asks for My Facebook Password?

I was asked this question by a reporter at the AP. You can see the story here.

It's technically illegal for employers to ask -- as it's against Facebook's terms of service to share your passwords or login with someone else's information. But it's unlikely that an employer would be prosecuted since you are giving them permission to login to your account.

That said, in a job search -- if you want to get hired, I think it's important to look like you've nothing to hide. In general, you want to be friendly, approachable, and presentable.

Here's a two step process you can use to address the question:

  1. Ask what the employer's looking for when they look at Facebook. Don't ask "Why" as that may come across as aggressive. Instead say, "What will you be looking for?"
    In many cases, employers who have asked for Facebook login information have been law enforcement professionals -- looking for evidence of gang involvement or illegal opportunities.

    In others industries, employers may want to see your Facebook profile so that they can see how your out-of-work activities demonstrate what you want to do for work. Want to be an event manager? Do you help organize activities for your friends? In this case, your involvement can actually help you and work in your favor.

  2.  Politely sidestep the password access information issue by offering an alternative way for the employer to get the information.

    You could say for example, I'm very careful with my passwords -- and assume you'd want me to be careful with my company e-mail account if I come to work for you. How about I friend you -- or one of your colleagues instead -- and you can take a look around.

    (This then gives you the added bonus of time, you can go back in and clean up information if you need to.)

    Want more insight on what employers are looking for? Check out the advice I gave reporter Jennifer Doll when she gave me (temporary) permission to snoop around in her Facebook and Twitter accounts. This piece gives a full overview of my advice on what to include -- and what not to include online.

Should I Pursue an Online Degree?

I'm considering enrolling in an online degree program as I haven't finished my Bachelor's degree? Should I do it?

- C.S.

My answer in brief: Know if the program is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency before you go. If the program or degree program is not accredited, your degree may not hold weight in the eyes of an employer -- and it may hurt you. Especially if you take out student loans to pay for the program.

For instructions on how to review and evaluate whether or not a program is accredited, see my recent post on this on the Career Hub. Note: Many "diploma mills" say they are accredited -- and technically they are. The trick is to make sure they are accredited by an agency that is recognized by the Department of Education -- and is widely accepted in your field. And always ask if you can speak to a real graduate who is actively working before you enroll.)

Good luck!


How Do I Get Started on LinkedIn?


After years of being asked to join LinkedIn, I've finally done it. Any suggestions on how to get started?  C. L.

Great question. As LinkedIn is a full service networking site, there are many ways to use it -- from making new professional connections through LinkedIn groups and Q &A discussions to finding jobs and requesting referrals.

If you're new to LinkedIn, the first thing you should do is make sure you've got an amazing profile that employers can find. Studies show that up to 86% of employers using social media to find candidates for jobs use LinkedIn so I recommend you have the best profile possible.

Bonus: LinkedIn is one of the 15 most accessed sites online as tracked by, so any information you post on the site and make public will help you be found by major search engines -- and prospective employers.

Here's a quick list of easy steps you can use to optimize LinkedIn that I created over at Let me know if you find this to be helpful -- and good luck!

How Do I Handle a Phone Interview with a Group?


I've been invited for a phone interview with a search committee: there will be five people on the call. Any tips on how to prepare?

P. L.

Ask for a list of all who are attending.

Show you are present: If there's a staff list with pictures print it out or pull it up online. Let people know you are looking at it as you talk. This may help you break the ice, and it will give you a chance to see how members of the committee act as a group:

Do they talk about their pictures and how they look different? Do they tease each other?

Is there silence?

Customize your questions:

Prepare a question for each person on the interview.

If you want the job, follow up with individual participants.

Follow up quickly with a custom thank you email to each participant. If you have information on their job titles, include a sentence or two that shows you are thinking about how you would interact with them on the job. This is a great opportunity to revisit any particular topics you may not have nailed in the interview -- example: You asked my opinion about X; here's a more complete answer to your question.

If you don't have email addresses for each participant, Google * -- this will show you how companies assign email addresses -- you can figure it out from there.

Don't forget the blind spot -- i.e. interviews are always a two way street: The employer picks the candidate, and the candidate gets to decide whether or not they want to work for the employer. You may be so focused on answering their questions that you don't take time to assess whether or not the job is a fit. If you receive an offer -- and still haven't figured out whether the job is a fit or met all the players in person, ask if you can meet again before you get started.

Good luck!