Social Enterprise

Do you use Google to conduct "stealth background checks" on job candidates?

I just came across an article in BusinessWeek Online that

examines the potential backlash of blogging indiscretions. It cites various

cases where individuals found their reputations compromised by some salacious

personal tidbit that had made its way to the Web—often via their own brash

blog posts. The article, "You Are What You Post,"

also discusses the highly unsettling trend of employers vetting job candidates (or

investigating current employees) via Google, discovering all sorts of

information that they couldn't legally obtain otherwise:

"Googling people is becoming a way for bosses and

headhunters to do continuous and stealthy background checks on employees, no

disclosure required. Google is an end run around discrimination laws, inasmuch

as employers can find out all manner of information — some of it for a nominal

fee — that is legally off limits in interviews: your age, your martial status,

the value of your house (along with an aerial photograph of it), the average

net worth of your neighbors, fraternity pranks, stuff you wrote in college,

liens, bankruptcies, political affiliations, and the names and ages of your

children."

So here's my question (or questions, rather) to the managers

out there: Have you ever used Google to get an in-depth picture of someone you

were thinking about hiring? And if so, did you come across information that made

a difference in your view of the candidate, either pro or con? Do you have any

qualms about digging into someone's personal or financial background by using

Google to slip under the radar of our privacy protections or do the ends

justify the means? And finally, have you ever Googled your way into a discovery

that made you think, "Whew — dodged a bullet on this guy!"?

Blog safely, y'all.

About Jody Gilbert

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior features editor for Tech Pro Research.

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