Monday, October 01, 2007

The proper use of online research

Networks supply employers with extra references
Facebook, Myspace sites often checked before hiring

By Anjali Athavaley - The Wall Street Journal

Job interviewees, beware: Your prospective boss may have called your references before you walk through the door - and they may not be the contacts you provided.

Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn Corp. and Jobster Inc. are making it easier for employers to get in touch with people who have worked with job candidates in the past or know them personally. Recruiters say they use such sites - where people create online profiles and then link to professional colleagues who are also members - to find mutual connections they can hit up for information. Many hiring managers say they even check to see if they have mutual connections with a candidate on Facebook and MySpace, the popular social networking sites.

Checking LinkedIn references strikes me as entirely proper, as long as you are sure you have the correct individual. Using search engines, MySpace, and or Facebook strike me as a way to get yourself in trouble. First of all, how do you know it is the same person? Even if you are sure, is the information relevant to the job? Unless you are a lobby shop, an applicant's politics should not matter.

If you want the most qualified individual, you would be well advised to confine yourself to researching the applicant's qualifications for the job.


Website Analyst in DC said...

Yes, I'm not sure I want prospective clients calling college roommates.

As a supplemental, I've had one PR client that I did some consulting work for. She had a customer that had some less than flattering commentary on the net, from a time when she was more brazen than she wishes to be remembered.

The problem was that this stuff sticks and it's pretty hard. Some of the postings were done on very popular sites, so as you can imagine, Google prioritized some of these over her more professional achievements when you did a search under her name.

You can beg and plead to remove some of these items, but most of the time, there's no really in charge of it.

One has to be very careful what is said, and after going through this I kind feel sorry for some of the younger generations that are so much more open to publishing personal details and opinions without much thinking of what ramification they may have for in their futures.


Alice said...

There are ways to deal with that, even if you cannot persuade the site owner to pull the material.

There are things you can do to bury it in the search results, so that someone would really have to dig for it.