Get a Life

By Judith Welles

Blog archive

Get a Life!: Perils of googling applicants

We have all heard the downside about posting personal information on social-networking sites. Future employers might be put off by that party photo you included or your not-so-funny comments.

Now the Merit Systems Protection Board has cautioned hiring officials about using online search engines to vet job applicants. In the September “Issues of Merit” newsletter, MSPB describes the pitfalls of using Internet information, even casually, in the pre-selection process.

The article uses the example of an information technology manager who, being tech savvy, decides to google the three applicants in the best-qualified group to see what other information he can find before interviewing them. He finds the family Web site for a female candidate, which mentions that her husband often travels. He worries that she might not be able to do the travel required in the job.

He googles the second candidate and finds news stories naming him as a suspect in an Internet fraud scheme. The third candidate expresses support for a presidential candidate on his MySpace blog.

The article points out that the selecting official might find information on the Internet that he is not permitted to know, such as marital status, race, sexual orientation or political affiliation. Once such information is learned, it is hard to unlearn it, which can leave a manager vulnerable to discrimination charges.

Also, news reports may or may not be about the same applicant if the name is common or if the person is a victim of identity theft.

Bottom line: If you are planning to use Internet searches to learn more about applicants, you could be setting yourself up for claims of discrimination, or you could disqualify applications on the basis of false information.

MSPB advises organizations to take care when using Internet searches during the selection process.

Judy Welles

Posted by Judith Welles on Oct 02, 2008 at 12:13 PM


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.