Friday, May 1, 2009

Information on social net and law, hiring

With internet, social net sites like linkedin and facebook, there are many legal things not clear when it comes to using them professionally. I wonder if someone could help me?

HR departments and hiring managers are more and more relying on online sources like facebook, linkedin, twitter and others, I can tell from my personal experience. Lets take a look at some scenarios.

1. Trapping HR.
Imagine, just imagine, someone has not such a superior education and experience as I do and has to make a work history up or modify it to get a job. So someone modifies their profile on linkedin. Do companies check what current or former employees write there? No. Do they send requests for changes? No. Do future employers check the data? Do they compare with the resume they get? I doubt they check details at least. Linkedin space is very limited, so a resume can never have all the details, and people leave out information all the time, so no one will even wonder about that. How much do you pay for a reference? A beer, being a neighbor or just being loveable? Are they any proof you’re really that good? I have my doubts. Is there any legal obligation to stick to the truth? I doubt. Even if it should be in the fine print of these platforms, people would just violate a contract, not a law. As most people are on facebook as private persons, the information they write about their persons would not fall under the regulations requiring non distorted or false information to customers - from companies.

2. Discrimination 101
You want some nice white guy in his early twenties, nice and open for shaping his mind? Easy. Just check facebook, filter out all other races, filter out old people, and the people openly not sharing your religion. Facebook does not show you? Well, search for it and find old yearbooks, look up addresses on maps to check out if they live in a neighborhood according to their income….Where does this go? I understand that the hunger for information of companies is huge. How is the legal situation? You cannot send a picture with an application because of discrimination laws, but HR personnel can check facebook to do the same?

3. False Identity
How do companies make sure they get information about the right person? My online trademark is andreas.wpv and I have reserved that in quite some places and platforms, but far from all. What if someone else uses the same acronym and is into something better not published while looking for a job? Sexual preferences, crimes, online and offline behavior could kick everyone out of an application if it is hefty enough for that job. I read about someone who has a brother whose name starts with the same letter – and has violated some law. Good luck with your jobsearch! Do HR departments use the necessary carefullness to not fall into these traps?

I think there are some scary scenarios - especially for hiring managers and companies. It might be very difficult to prove the discrimination, but there is a chance for lawsuites. And similar, hiring underqualified personnel can be very expensive.

P.S. I wrote this post last night pretty late, and this morning I found this here on twitter (author ecommercejobs) "TRUE OR FALSE: Companies CAN use candidate information gleaned from social networks to influence hiring decisions:". This link is highly interesting. The 'Amegy bank of Texas' nixes the use of social sites for their hiring process, according to this article, and they are thinking about the use of linkedin.

I am curious how this will affect social net sites in the future, lets say after the first lawsuites.

(Just to make sure, I try to be as honest as possible with my online data and prefer to publish as little as possible, because keeping everything up-to-date is already a lot of work and keeping up lies would be even more work - and I prefer to use my time for other things. )

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