Well, there isn’t any precedence yet, according to this StarTribune article.  Clearly the proper use of social networking sites during background checks for candidates is going to be a tremendously important legal topic soon.  This topic has been percolating for some time.  The article references an obvious starting point:

“We can suggest to employers that they include in their application process some statement that says ‘we do reference checking including use of information in the public domain’ and to make it broad enough that if they discover something online it’s fair game,” Ridley said.

I have always been one to note that the Internet IS a public domain so anything a candidate chooses to post online should be usable.  That only seems logical to me, but I know there are others who see it differently.  From the article:

Professional recruiter Gillian Gabriel said she doesn’t use Facebook in her screening process. Instead, Gabriel said, she uses sites like the professionally oriented LinkedIn where people often are looking for job and career connections. Gabriel also looks at blog connections posted on a candidate’s LinkedIn page.

“Whatever they put out there is fair game,” Gabriel said.

“Fair game” seems to be the preferred phrase for this topic.  Anyway, LinkedIn and blogs seem like a good starting point.  I would still choose to look at Facebook also.  I like to know as much as possible about a candidate and if it is online, I’m going to read it.  Just being real.

One last note that caught my eye from the article:

Schmedemann said employers are turning to social media because they “are under pressure to hire carefully” in an economy where there are plenty of job seekers and few jobs. “People fake their résumés much more than they used to,” she said.

Great point.  The difficult job market does lead to desperate acts.

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