Every so often a story floats to the surface of someone fired or not hired because of a posting on facebook or a tweet. Researches cite figures of a growing percentage of employers checking the online presence of their job candidates.
Businesses are motivated by concerns of (potential) reputation issue, but there are a lot of types of content that might be in the NSFW category without strictly being a reputation risk for an employer. I mean who hasn’t partied hard at some point in their lives? With the power of mobile phones your worst moments are now up there for posterity.
For many people compromising material is online out of ignorance, but others – perhaps those born into the digital era – have a blase attitude about privacy online. They don’t understand that if a company sniffs a potential reputation issue they’re likely to choose the cleaner candidate. An additional challenge to companies hiring is that they may open themselves up to charges of discrimination by taking on any in-depth online investigation.
But someone saw an opportunity out of this conflict between an individual’s privacy and a company’s reputation concerns. Social Intelligence promises to resolve this conflict and enable “fair and consistent hiring”. They’ll research you online and report back to the employer; if nothing is found the employer hears that you’ve passed and doesn’t see anything they found. If you fail a report is generated and sent to the employer who can then use that in their hiring decision.
Mat Honan from Gizmodo submitted himself for a report, failed it, and blogged about it – including posting the full report. The report lists the specific sites checks and specifies whether an issue was found, and if so what was the issue – and adds a screen shot. The report omits any information that will identify the candidates religion, ethnic origin, nationality political affiliation, marital status and so on. This means that the hiring company is protected from any allegations of discrimination. It’s a smart business concept.
Of course, you can do a lot to help yourself; lock down your profiles, use the privacy settings, be smart about what you post online. If you’re job-hunting check google results for your name and any aliases, if you’re in the US you can use reputation.com to monitor your online presence.