The New Background Check: Taking It Online
In the wake of several dismissals and many more warnings over imprudent messages posted to popular social networking platforms, the question of whether employers should—or legally can—perform extensive online background checks on prospective employees has come to the forefront of the employment sphere. Mike Young at Internet Lawyer writes:
“When it comes to social media employment background checks, the Federal Trade Commission has indicated that it plans to hold employers gaining information about potential employees over the internet subject to the same accountability as employers who obtain information about prospective employees in more traditional ways.”
Clearly, the line between online and offline recruitment is blurring, and blurring fast. And just as job candidates (as well as employees) are instructed to carefully manage their online persona in order to create an impression of discretion and professionalism, so too are employers being given a set of guidelines to follow in their web research of private individuals.
It is important to keep both parties in check because, let’s face it: The Internet is still a wild, unwieldy jungle that is only just beginning to be organized and tamed. Be sure to clean up your online profile or, barring that, be selective in who you permit to see it. As for employers, keep in mind that even the most strait-laced candidate can have a mischievous side, and it won’t necessarily affect their work.
According to Jung, we all have a public Persona that everyone can see and a mirror-image Shadow that we keep to ourselves. The interesting thing about online social media is that they allow for both sides to be expressed, sometimes side-by-side. But the anonymity—or the illusion of anonymity—that these media offer sometimes leads to awful blunders and social/professional faux pas. So remember: Once it’s out there, it’s out there.