Just the Facts (about social networks, Ma’am)
published by , on 05/09/2009

If you’re a Baby Boomer, you may remember that catch phrase from the Dragnet television show in the 1960s. Sticklers for accuracy will learn that even though it’s associated with the program, Detective Joe Friday never actually said those exact words.

That’s a lesson for all recruiters and hiring managers who forego formal professional background checks and rely on amateur sleuthing on the Internet. Are your top candidate’s personal Facebook postings fact or fiction? Are their favorite books or movies considered legitimate abilities, certifications, or skills? Could you be influenced in your hiring decision because they are a rabid Red Sox fan and you have season tickets to the Yankees? If asked to justify your hiring decision, will you be able to focus on real facts or Facebook fiction?

The results of a CareerBuilder/Harris Interactive study point out just how widespread the cult of the amateur has become with respect to online searches and background checks on job candidates:
• 45% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates.
• 35% of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate.
• 18% of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them to hire the candidate.

Do you Google your candidates? Because if you do, you’d better know that social network profiles have sparked a debate. Using those tools for hiring decisions may be hazardous to your business. There could be serious legal exposure for your company these days as litigation increases in an economic downturn.

Check out the new book Reference Check 2.0: How Digital Social Networking is Transforming the Selection Process for more information on how search and social networks affect recruiting.

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