Facebook Users Beware: Employers Aren’t the Only Ones Who Know How to Google

FaceBook, MySpace, and other social network sites, have multiple uses. Of course, the traditional idea is that members gather to meet new people and share experiences.  As most recruiting and hiring managers are well aware, these websites can provide substantial insight into the personality and personal lives of job applicants. 

The value in this hiring strategy is subject to debate.  William W. Bowser and I will be debating it ourselves in greater detail tomorrow in our audioconference, Click Here for Lawsuit: Applicant Screening With Google and MySpace.  Employers must balance the need to make crucial hiring decisions with the privacy demands of Gen Y.  The arguments against using the internet’s resources as the basis for employment decisions are shrinking, though.  And, if the trends continue, employers who do not utilize the web in hiring may find that they’re alone in that decision.

A survey released yesterday reports that the use of social networking has just begun to get off the ground outside America.  In North America last year, the number of users increased by 9% compared to an increase of 25% worldwide.

Social networking has seen growth not only in the number of members, but also in the number of ways it has been put to use.  For example, the National Law Journal’s article, Social Networking Sites Help Vet Jurors.  The article details how many lawyers now incorporate a Facebook-MySpace background-style check into their jury selections.  The information that is available online about potential and seated jurors can be invaluable in selecting jurors, striking potential jurors, and even in crafting opening and closing arguments that will hit home for the jury-audience.

What is remarkable about this trend is the revelations that often come with the discovery of an individual’s FaceBook or MySpace page. Over and over, when social networking is used as a means to find out the “real” personality, behavior, and preferences of others, whether it be a job candidate or a potential juror, the “real” version is drastically different from the version presented to the searching party.