As easy as it is, employers need to be wary of the information they find.
As Eileen Morgan Johnson explained in her article, “Social Media: Its Use by Employers in Pre-Employment, Employment and Post-Employment Situations" which appeared in “New York Public Personnel Law” and was reprinted in the book “Social Networking,” some of the information you come across on the Internet are pitfalls. She listed five things that need to be handled with care:
- Information that cannot be used in the hiring process (age, race, etc.) can be found in an online profile but it still cannot be used.
- Make sure the person whose profile you are viewing is actually your applicant. After you've confirmed this, make sure the information is reliable.
- Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy? Avoid attempts to circumvent the privacy settings put in place by users.
- The breadth of information a Google search can unearth has drawbacks, including difficulty in identifying sources.
- Current law on reviewing social media sites. There are no current court decisions, but that is no guarantee there won’t be any soon.