Should Social Media information be a reason for job rejection?

Saturday, March 28th, 2009 - Google CV, Job Application, Social Media, social networking

Social Media

facebook invite everybody
Creative Commons License photo credit: mandiberg

Tony asks: I’ve just had an argument with one of my friends who works for the HR dept of her company for disqualifying a candidate, not because of his rich experience, great educational background or excellent references but rather the things she happened to dislike that were on his MySpace profile. Has it come to this, do we know how to make sure all of our google-able references are snooping HR person proof? And does a run-on-blog or dodgy photo speak louder than anything that you might have on your CV?

In answer:
If it is on your Social Media or in your Google CV, it’s fair game. If you put it in the public domain, its public domain information and hence searchable by Google. Which is probably the reason you put it there in the first place, so you could be found by your mates and people who share the same interests.

Working as a recruiter, I interviewed someone to train and an HGV driver 18months ago. One of the pre-requisites of the DVLA is a medical, which checks drug consumption – the medical costs us £150 all in to get undertaken. This chap applies, I Google his name, and up pops his MySpace page which tells me all about the wonders of different types of skunk cannabis and his experiences with them. He comes in for the interview (I was impressed with his CV), denies he takes drugs under our standard questionnaire on site (I made him retake it, saying we had lost it – we hence had a duplicate copy answer), and when confronted in interview with the evidence went “Opps, sorry – I withdraw my application, skunk is too good!”

On average we reject 15% of applicants after Googling their name for driver positions, because of their self-admitted casual drug taking; around 10% still fail the drugs taking part of the test after that. Of those rejected because of Google checks, we get around 10% of those (ie: 1.5%), calling in to find out why. In 2years I have only had one person take that feedback on board, and come back clean 3months later – he’s still with us.

When you know the HR team will be Googling your candidates themselves – between 30% and 70% do – why should we look amateurish not taking on board such information, and vetting out the people we know will not fit their requirements? That is our job as a recruitment company.

There is a fair debate to be had on what is reasonable to reject an applicant on, but as long as its not related to age, race, sex, or ability (ie – the legal requirements of fair selection); then a multitude of reasons could be valid. When 1/3 of applicants don’t include a Cover Letter and are resultantly rejected, many issues could be valid reasons for rejection.

I liked the piece this week in UKRecruiter which addressed this issue, the last point of which said: You can’t call a recruiter checking you out on the internet “sneaky”.  Them following you home and rifling through your bin is sneaky but taking the opportunity to find as much out about you – in the public domain – is fair game.

Good Luck!

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