Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

You're not paranoid if they're really watching you....

This article, from SiliconValley.com, I thought was interesting, particularly since I have this blog.

For some time now, I've been aware of employers being sensitive to blogs of both their employees and prospective candidates. The article touches on that, and if it's not something you've read about in the past, then it's worth checking out.

What grabbed my attention in this article, was the mention that many employers (20% according to a poll cited in the article) will run a search of employee prospects on Google.

While I think that Google is a good search engine, along with the fact that they offer some other neat services (including Blogger here), I do not think that employers are well advised to be running internet searches of people whom they are looking to hire. Why? Let me explain.

Everyone has tried to look themselves up on the internet on some various search engine. Being that Yahoo and Google are easily the most popular, if you were to run a search on yourself from one of these two search engines, you could see what apparently 20% of employers are doing: looking you up.

If you've tried to look yourself up before, there's a very good chance that you've come across someone with the same name as you. I know that in my own personal experience, this is true; knowing what my name is, I was very surprised to find that there's at least one, possibly about 3 people out there who have a web presence who also spell their name the same way that I do. Luckily for me, these people all seem to NOT have crazy stuff up on the internet, but I know that, not people who are trying to differentiate me from other people with the same name as me.
Why is this important?

How would you feel if someone who spelled their name the same way you do, was responsible (via their internet presence) for you not getting a job or losing a job that you have? Obviously this presents a problem for both companies and their employees and applicants. In many cases it would be difficult for someone to confront an employee about something they saw on the internet which they THINK that person is responsible for. In the cases of some of the people in the article, these people were removed from their positions. Even in cases where someone is confronted by their employer about something from the internet that is attributed to them, once their credibility has been called into question, can they ever really recover from that? Just because someone says that they don't run "such and such" website, or they did not post something offensive on some forum, that doesn't mean that they did not do it, and there is little way to prove them correct.

While I acknowledge that it does make sense for companies to "Google" people who they are thinking about hiring (or even people who are working for them), one cannot deny that it would be easy for someone to mistakenly be accused of something they were not responsible for, and then lose their job or a chance at a job.

So think about that the next time you are thinking about starting a website bashing some company whom you dislike or have had a bad experience with.

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