the recruiter will cyber-stalk you now… | [ weird things ]

the recruiter will cyber-stalk you now…

Recruiters and employers are now snooping through candidates' social media because they can. That open them to potential liability and have far-reaching affects across social platforms.

They’re out there, looking at your social networking profiles, party pictures, comments on news sites and even what your family and friends are doing online. They’re employers who receive your resume and decided that to make a proper decision about your potential at their company is to cyber-stalk you. In fact, some 70% of them rejected you for what they saw as an online transgression in an accelerating trend since 2008, when some of the first tales of corporate cyber-stalking during the hiring process came to light. Supposedly, they only want to check if you’ve been misrepresenting your job history by looking through your social media accounts. But it’s not exactly a comforting thought to know recruiters browse through whatever they can find out about you while saying they’re “just checking things out” and making silent, and sometimes costly judgments about your fate.

Sure, you can argue that anything that goes online is fair game and if you don’t want anyone seeing a photo or a comment, just don’t post it. Plus, you could always use your privacy settings to lock your profile down. But we should remember that employers aren’t just looking at Facebook anyone but searching for anything about you. And that’s when the real trouble starts. What if they come across a blog you’ve started and get incensed after a post catches their eye? At that point it doesn’t matter if your blog gets ten or ten thousand views a day, all it will take for your resume to be hurled in the trash, or your job offer to be revoked is just one view that disagrees.

It can become a way to discriminate based on political affiliation and religious beliefs (or lack thereof) in a way that makes it much harder to address. Did you write something in praise of the health reform bill, or authored sympathetic odes to tea party zealots? Got something to say about the merits of atheism or state your explicit religious beliefs? Oh too bad, so sad, your resume just wasn’t up to par for Acme Corp according to recruiter Jane Doe after a really, really careful and thorough review…

Of course proving all this in a court of law would be very difficult. Unless you have your own blog and know the methods for tracking down IP addresses of visitors to find someone accessing it from a corporate computer, you won’t know who viewed whatever information was used to ultimately discard your application. And even if you do, once you start getting into the realm of a thousand daily visits, it would become a full time job to watch where your readers really are. When it comes to Facebook or Twitter, you’re on your own.

To find any proof that you were the victim of discrimination based on your personal information would require a subpoena or two for the histories of the recruiters’ corporate networks and even then, it’s your word against the recruiter’s. You say he left a nasty comment on your post about the politicians you support, or your story of leaving your childhood faith, then threw away your resume. He says you weren’t as qualified as another candidate whose resume he can’t produce because it would violate privacy policies. And the comment wasn’t from him anyway since the IP which was registered was just the gateway IP for the company’s private network.

The most important thing to note here though, is that sifting through your personal information online to find a proper candidate who will make a perfect ideological fit at a company has nothing to do with that candidate’s professional abilities. Maybe if she’s applying to be a PR manager or a social media strategist, a slick profile that’s designed to attract employers would be a bonus. But for a programmer, an administrator, or an analyst, this kind of scrutiny is a case of recruiters sifting through personal information just because they can and they just happen to find it. They’re not supposed to and they can always claim they’re not digging into way too much detail, but really, its there at your fingertips and chances are, you’re going to look and you’re going to judge.

An entire entertainment industry has been build on the human propensity for gossip and voyeurism so pounding your chest with your fists and declaring that you’d never look at really personal data isn’t very convincing. Even worse, this development gives ever more leverage to those who want to censor bloggers they hate by outing them in the hopes that employers will do the dirty work of rejecting their hated writers for jobs or firing them in the urge to avoid any and all controversy, even an ultimately meaningless one…

# tech // business / employment / social media / social network

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