Social Media Hiring Dilemma: Reporter’s Job Rescinded After Announcing Job on Tumblr

Sure, in this day and age companies have compiled social media policies as part of their employee handbooks but after hearing the latest story, maybe guidelines should be established for new employees and job candidates overall.

Here’s what went down: Khristopher J. Brooks landed a job at the News Journal in Delaware. Excited about his new role as reporter, the master’s degree student at New York University posted the press release announcing his new job to his personal Tumblr account which he soon found out was a major faux pas.

He explained to Jim Romenesko the newspaper rescinded their offer for improper use of the newspaper’s logo as well as using executive editor’s quotes in the press release.

The not-so-new hire explained to Romenesko, “I’m a really big NBA fan and whenever an NBA team acquires a new player there’s always a press release announcing it. I’d look at those releases and think, ‘The organization is really proud’ of the new hire.'”

He added that although newspapers don’t announce new employees unless they’re super stars but “what’s keeping me from doing it?”

In addition, Brooks told Loop 21 he got a call from the employer saying there was an “illegal use of the company logo and I wasn’t supposed to quote from the offer letter that I got…and that they wanted to rescind my job offer because of it.” He added,

“Obviously, if I knew it was wrong I wouldn’t have done it. I’m not going to purposely piss off my new employer. But I don’t make it a habit to constantly update myself on corporate policy. They could say that (it’s in the policy) and they’d be totally right. But, who reads that?”

Indicating he was “at a loss for words,” the reporter also apologized and mentioned he wasn’t aware he wasn’t supposed to do this.

This, of course, opens the discussion: Should the News Journal have rescinded the offer or perhaps simply told him it was an inappropriate use of the logo and he should have removed it from his blog? Should someone have intervened such as the recruiter or his editor saying politely asking him remove it before it became a major issue and ultimately cost him the job?

Should job seekers be informed of social media policies during the hiring process or does this incident create pause for future new employees to refrain from making announcements via social media in general? Now that he’s pounding the pavenement again, Brooks told Loop21 the discussion needs to occur. “They’re attacking the issue,” he explained. ‘Should we be allowed to do that?’ I feel like I was the one who created that conversation, because it had never been there. If you’re going to have a discussion, you’ve got to have the people who think what I did was boneheaded. At the end of the day, if it turns out that the industry has decided that you don’t do this…then you just don’t do it.”

So, as he decides where to go with four job interviews lined up and hopes “everything will blow over,” if he had to do it again, he indicated to Loop21 yes, he would do it again with a few adjustments.

“Minus the logo, minus the quote from David Ledford…and I probably leave the editors’ names out of it. But I would still do it. I think fundamentally what I did was still right. But if I didn’t use the logo or the quote, I think they probably wouldn’t have had any grounds to fire me.”

What do you think? Who was right — the reporter innocently posting his exciting news or the employer? Or, maybe it’s not a case of pointing a finger at right or wrong but rather, raising awareness around the touchy subject of employment and social media.