Are You Googling Job Candidates? When You Do, Everyone Loses

Editor’s Note: Readers sometimes ask about past TLNT articles. That’s why we republish a Classic TLNT post every Friday.

Years ago, I asked HR professionals to stop Googling candidates.

In short, it is dumb and lazy.

It is an unreliable and invalid way of discerning a candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities. And I believe it might be an illegal hiring practice, although there is no legal decision or class action lawsuit against an employer in America to test that theory.

What if you have a iffy Internet history?

Mashable just published an article that gives you advice on how to protect yourself when an employer Googles you. It is a good article. Check it out.

But I wonder: In a society where we all wear veils, should anyone assume that anything they experience online — for good or worse — is real? And what about evolution?

Lynn Hershman Leeson, a noted artist and filmmaker, once asked how long a second life needs to be lived in order to be as real as the first. What about online data? How long does a new profile have to exist in order to be as real as the original profile? And what happens to data and images from our lives that is no longer true?

So I can’t say this enough: When HR Googles a candidate, everyone loses.

If you want to know who you are hiring, ask that person. Then hire a third-party background check organization to verify what you have been told. That’s called recruiting.

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But what if you are a candidate with a dodgy history on the Internet?

“You are more than your social footprint”

Well, there is hope.

There are progressive Human Resources professionals and hiring managers who know that the Internet is nothing more than a veil itself. When we view your digital life on our browser, we understand that our own voyeuristic behavior is shallow and transactional. We know you are more than your social footprint. And we accept that you are flawed because we are deeply flawed, too.

But we want to hire you. You have mad skills.

So please trust me. We will find you.

You can find more from Laurie Ruettimann at her blog, The Cynical Girl.

Laurie Ruettimann is a former human resources leader turned writer, entrepreneur, and speaker. She is also author of Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career.

CNN has recognized Laurie as one of the top five career advisors in the United States, and her work has been featured on NPR, The New YorkerUSA TodayThe Wall Street Journal, and Vox. Laurie frequently delivers keynote speeches at business and management events around the world and hosts the popular podcast Punk Rock HR. She lives with her husband and cats in Raleigh, N.C.