Hiring and The Google Background Check
Stephen Wynkoop posted an interesting question regarding social networks last week on sswug.org. Basically he is curious if people are using social networking sites to help make hiring decisions. Here is what he had to say ...
I had an interesting question posed today. The gist of it was that someone was interviewing to fill a DBA position in their company. One of the interviewees had been doing DBA work for quite some time and seemed like an interesting candidate.
The issue was that searching for this person online resulted in... nothing. Nothing at all. No social sites, no posts, no nothing. Now, it's possible that it was just necessary to keep searching, but it brought up an intriguing question. If you cannot find someone online - someone that has been working with computers - is this an issue? If you couldn't find a single post, a single message, a single social networking site mention... would it begin to color your impression of this candidate?
I also noticed from Stephen's two follow up posts that many people were not comfortable with potential employer's googleing to find out more information about them. I found that interesting too. When I have a question about something (or someone), I ask google. Is this so different?
Here are some of the email response's Stephen received (go to his post to read the rest of them):
All I can say is that I hope not too much emphasis is placed on this. I've been working with computers for roughly 30 years; my first coding was in Fortran - using punch cards - as an engineering student in 1977. Being somewhat of a Luddite, I have no use for social networking sites like myspace - I hardly even care about cellphones. Googling my name returns some results but nothing about me specifically - does that mean I don't exist? - Randall
Personally, I would assume that the individual has done a fantastic job of making sure his or her personal information is protected. To me this would indicate that the candidate has a phenomenal grasp on computer/network security. I would be more inclined to hire such a person than someone who has personal data floating around where anyone can find it. - Ben
Surely that is unethical and illegal? Most countries would have laws \ regulations against that. No society I know of would allow that, it goes against the right to privacy and has no bearing on his ability and possible subsequent appointment. Not a negative comment meant from my side, but from a reputable organisation like yours I find that rather strange. Social networking sites are really for youngsters who are just trying to be 'hip' and normally are bored persons with no self esteem, so does it seem appropriate to hire someone who uses such sites? - Larry
Don't be Passive
As I read the comments, I was curious about why these emailers appear to be defensive about employer's googling them. Are they really hiding something and nervous Google might turn it up? Do they really think its an invasion of privacy? Or are they like Randall and feel guilty because there is nothing to find, but just don't want to admit it? I don't know these people, but I can't help but guess there is some part of them that is like Randall - passive Internet users that don't want people to know that Google can't find a single relationship between them and the technology they claim to be an expert in.
Which raises some interesting questions ...
- Would you hire a developer with zero on-line presence?
- Would you work for a dev manager/tech lead/architect with zero on-line presence?
- Do agree with the sswug emailers?
- Do you make hiring decisions? If so, do you do a 'google background check'?
- Should all developers have an on-line presence?
That's it. Enjoy!