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Googling Candidates: Ray Rice Version...

Ah yes, Googling candidates.  Read enough HR Magazine or talk to employment lawyers, and they'll tell you Googling candidates is questionable at best, as is looking at candidates on social media.
You could get sued.  You could factor things into a selection process that really shouldn't be evaluated.
You know what's riskier than Googling candidates?  Not Googling candidates.  Just ask your CEO.  He wants you to go deep on candidates, to make sure a limited number of freaks make it through. Ray
Social media – and life in general as now indexed via the Googleplex – is evolutionary.  People make mistakes in judgment (what they share on social media) and in life (what gets indexed by Google and more specific, database driven services like Lexus/Nexus).  You should be using every resource available to get all the info you can on candidates.
Ask your CEO over drinks, and he'll tell you he wants you using those resources 10 out of 10 times.  Because the people who tell you doing so is a bad idea aren't responsible for meeting your bottom line.  They're vendors.
Case in point, Ray Rice.  Rice is the guy who infamously punched his wife out cold in an Atlantic City casino elevator.  He's just been cleared to play for any NFL team.  At this writing, no one has picked him up, mainly because all the teams have PERFECT INFORMATION ON THIS CANDIDATE.
Your candidates?  Perfect information doesn't exist.  But you're a sucker if you don't use what's available to get a vibe on people.  Can that lead to discrimination suits, etc?  Yeah.  But if your HR department is the one taking a look – not the hiring manager – I like your odds of keeping that to a minimum.
Our country is founded on second chances, and most people get those.  Ray Rice will play somewhere, but he may have to sit out a year.  
You probably hired at least 5 people last year out of every 100 hired at your company you would have thought long and hard about had you deep googled them and did a social media scan.
I trust your judgement – so does your CEO.  And he wants you to Google the hell out of every candidate you hire.


Rebecca Heyman

I could not agree more! Even with my most conservative HR-nerd hat on, I think a social media & Google search is prudent, since we know that employers can be held vicariously liable for hiring someone who they could have reasonably found out was a total creep. Usually this comes up when I'm recommending background checks to a client; if a candidate has multiple convictions for violent acts, you'd want to know that, right?! Same goes for what they publicly share - I say it's fair game. Use an alias if you don't want to be discovered by an employer or others in your network.

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