How to Use Internet Information
When Considering Job Applicants

In today’s “Online” world, individuals’ personal information is more widely available than ever. You can find photos, personal information, life events, etc. just by Googling a name, or going on to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Some businesses have taken to checking out potential employees through the Web. Such searches about a job applicant can be very revealing, but is it wise for the employer to do so?

A search on a prospective employee uncover news stories involving the candidate, articles written, critiques of their work, information about volunteer work, and more. In addition, they may find posts that include profane language, photos or videos of wild parties, etc.

Recently a candidate for a job posted a Tweet noting that the job seemed boring but worth the big salary. Once the employer read the post, the candidate was not offered the job.

Be cautious about using the Internet to dig up information about prospective or current employees. Some states prohibit employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their legal, off-duty activities. Some states are beginning to require employers to disclose to an applicant’s adverse information found in public records. Not only is this costly and inconvenient, it raises concerns about the reliability of the information. It might actually pertain to another person with the same name, especially if the names are common. Others who might hold a grudge against the person can post misleading information. You may be opening yourself to a lawsuit so weigh the risks carefully.

The best way to handle the power of the Internet when it comes to job applicants or employees is to regard the Internet as one tool among many. Utilize the standard resources, conduct interviews and personality tests, and ask for references. Supplement that with information found on the Internet. Evaluate the information from all credible sources and make an informed business decision based on the job requirements. Use the Internet wisely and always interpret the information found there cautiously.

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