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What can google tell you about your potential new recruit?

Finding the right person for a job is an important part of any business. The recruitment process itself is time consuming and choosing the wrong person can lead to even more costs to the business. Choosing the wrong candidate is expensive and research suggests it can cost up to 150% of a departing employees salary to replace them. On top of this, office morale can also be lowered by a candidate that does not fit into the company culture and dissatisfied workers are often less productive.

With everyone leaving behind a digital footprint it is tempting to use a simple search to find out more about a candidate. In fact, 77% of employers are already jumping online to find out more about job applicants and with the vast amount of information available it’s not surprising.

While a lot of data is not easily accessible from a simple name search, in today’s digital world it is becoming more and more common for people to publicly project their entire lives through social platforms. Particularly for the younger demographics, growing up with access to a range of technologies has meant most of their lives have been documented on the internet. While once upon a time professional and private lives were kept inherently separate, the lines are becoming blurred. Generations like Gen Y are using their profiles as an extension of their professional personality and curating their personal lives as a part of a broader brand image.

While googling can reveal information about a person, it is also important to weigh up the risks.

What can you find out online?

Searching someone does come with its benefits; you’re able to avoid major red flags (e.g. racist social posts), check the truthfulness of their resume through researching past places of employment, validate their application, cross check resumes via platforms such as LinkedIn and assess whether an individual has a personal life that aligns with the company culture.

What can go wrong?

While googling someone will only give you access to public information, there can be downsides to searching a candidate. We’re in an age where people are expected to be aware of their online presence and the image that they curate digitally however, there are some risks:

–  An online search alone cannot tell you if someone is going to fit within a work culture and other hiring processes, such as interviews need to be used

– Common names can cause mistaken identities where the profiles you are viewing online are not those of the person actually applying

– An individual’s online presence is often curated by other people and you need to be conscious that not everything online may be true

– You could find information that could subconsciously lead to illegal bias e.g. age, marital status, sexuality or religious views that you would not be able to ‘un-see’

The risks don’t mean that searching a candidate cannot be a helpful tool. Using the internet as a tool in conjunction with interviewing and checking references can be effective. Furthermore, searching for repetitive behaviour (rather than isolated incidences) and ensuring all candidates are subjected to the same checks can help within the hiring process.

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