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Should Job Seekers Tell Employers To Quit Snooping? 681

Posted by kdawson
from the easy-for-you-to-say-you-have-a-job dept.
onehitwonder writes in with a CIO opinion piece arguing that potential employees need to stand up to employers who snoop the Web for insights into their after-work activities, often disqualifying them as a result. "Employers are increasingly trolling the web for information about prospective employees that they can use in their hiring decisions. Consequently, career experts advise job seekers to not post any photos, opinions or information on blogs and social networking websites (like Slashdot) that a potential employer might find remotely off-putting. Instead of cautioning job seekers to censor their activity online, we job seekers and defenders of our civil liberties should tell employers to stop snooping and to stop judging our behavior outside of work, writes CIO.com Senior Online Editor Meridith Levinson. By basing professional hiring decisions on candidates' personal lives and beliefs, employers are effectively legislating people's behavior, and they're creating an online environment where people can't express their true beliefs, state their unvarnished opinions, be themselves, and that runs contrary to the free, communal ethos of the Web. Employers that exploit the Web to snoop into and judge people's personal lives infringe on everyone's privacy, and their actions verge on discrimination."
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Should Job Seekers Tell Employers To Quit Snooping?

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  • No, they don't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:16AM (#27061349)

    "... and their actions verge on discrimination."

    No, legal terms have legislated meanings, ad you don't get to make them up as you go along. Googling someone to see if they're a Nazi child molester on the no-fly list is perfectly legal, and as a hiring manager, you can bet I'm going to keep doing it.

    • Re:No, they don't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:22AM (#27061375)
      I'm not sure that doing a web search is really "snooping" either--after all, what you put on the web is information you put out there. If you didn't want people to know it, you shouldn't have put it out there for everybody in the world to see.

      Now, if employers are breaking into your private disk space, that's different...

      Maybe I'll post this anonymously, so it can't be used against me...

      • Re:No, they don't (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:37AM (#27061785)

        But what about the information other people have put out about me?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by doti (966971)

          If you want it a secret, then don't tell anyone.

          If you want if off the internets, then never let it out your private disk space.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dallas Caley (1262692) *

        the fact that you posted as "Anonymous Coward" should answer your question here. lets say your name is "Bob Smith" for example, now someone else, whom you don't like perhaps, purchases the domain name www.bobsmith.com and makes a site all about how you are recruiting for "young gay men who are willing to let themselves be eaten alive" or whatever would make you look bad. is it fair that an employer can now judge you based on this?

        The problem is the internet is anonymous

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "The problem is the internet is anonymous"

          Actually....I would promote that if people want to express opinions on the internet (especially if they might be controversial and hinder a job hire) they should take advantage of just that fact that the internet can be anonymous!!

          I have been of the humble opinion that you should pretty much always use a pseudonym, never your real name.

          If you post pictures of yourself in college, sitting half nekkid sucking on a skull bong, well, you're just asking for trouble

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mdwh2 (535323)

        I'm not sure that doing a web search is really "snooping" either--after all, what you put on the web is information you put out there.

        I don't think that follows. If I camped outside someone's house, took notes of when they arrived and left, perhaps viewed them through the window if they didn't draw the curtains, followed them whereever they went in public, most people would call that snooping, even though I never trespass on private property.

        No, a simple websearch isn't snooping, just as me looking at someo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Capsaicin (412918)

      No, legal terms have legislated meanings, ad you don't get to make them up as you go along.

      I don't find it difficult to deal with the use of the word 'discrimination' outside a strict legal definition (and IAAL). Moreover, the text did say "verge on discrimination. (On a side note, not all legal terms have legislated meaning, some have meaning at common law :P)

      Googling someone to see if they're a Nazi child molester on the no-fly list is perfectly legal, and as a hiring manager, you can bet I'm going t

      • Re:No, they don't (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nick Ives (317) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:41AM (#27061489)

        In any case, if you are going to be so stubborn about infringing on our privacy, we are just going to have to pass legislation criminalising your behaviour, aren't we?

        But how will you know if a firm passed you over because of something you said online? It'd be impossible to enforce.

        It's just best not to worry about it. Firms who discriminate against people who aren't ashamed of their life and like to talk openly about it will wind up full of drones leaving all the creative people to assemble elsewhere. I hope.

        • Protected classes (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:57AM (#27061579) Homepage Journal

          But how will you know if a firm passed you over because of something you said online? It'd be impossible to enforce.

          Unfortunately, that's not true. It seems to make sense that there is no way that one could know why an employer did something. But certain legislators don't think that way.
          For a number of classes of people ( genders, ethnic groups, etc ) the mere act of not having the right number of people of a certain class can be construed as proof that there was discrimination.
          So, someday, after you have posted a picture of yourself butt-naked sharing a twelve-pack with your buddies outside the local convent, and you remain unemployed, you will be able to sue. All you will have to show is that X percent of the population does such things, and if a particular employer has significantly less than X percent of such people among their employees, they are therefore guilty of discrimination.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            how about the right of employers to not hire people who go around butt naked drinking beer ;)

            seriously putting quotas on evry minority is not the solution in the long term.

            In France if you want a job you should get amputated and then you will have almost no competition to get highly payed jobs.

            What happens is you don't need to be as competent if you are handicapped in France, and this is not fair for other unemployed.

      • Re:No, they don't (Score:5, Insightful)

        by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @05:31AM (#27062207) Homepage
        When I go for a job I do extensive research about the company I am applying to. During the process I will get as much information on who they employ, and then try and get as much information on any who seem relevant. This isn't uncommon, in fact almost anyone would say not investigating a possible employer is a big mistake. So why is it that we are worried if the employer treats hiring in the same way?

        The majority of people who are going to suffer by having people look for them online are people who don't attempt to maintain a separate internet persona and are also publicly doing things that deserve to get them in trouble. If I look up a candidate and find them on Slashdot (on the assumption it can be verified as them) and they regularly flame or troll then you can bet that would effect my hiring decision. At the same time if I found that they often gave good and tolerant answers it would also effect my decision, except this time in a positive manner.

        If you post information in public then expect employers to see it. If your employer was using devious methods to get hold of something you thought was private then yes it's an issue.
    • Re:No, they don't (Score:5, Interesting)

      by QRDeNameland (873957) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:14AM (#27061685)

      Googling someone to see if they're a Nazi child molester on the no-fly list is perfectly legal, and as a hiring manager, you can bet I'm going to keep doing it.

      Just out of curiosity, is it just as legal if your google search finds the person posts on an online forum for, say, cancer patients, to use that as a pre-screen for who might be unacceptable insurance risks? I wouldn't be surprised if it was.

      Unfortunately, I think it is ultimately wise to divorce your real identity from anything you do online however innocent it might be. (An exception could be made for strictly employment-related or technical stuff, but one should think really hard anytime they put real identity info online.) You never know what information could be used against you in some future situation.

      • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:40AM (#27062011) Homepage Journal
        Strangely enough, i think this can work both ways.

        I have worked as a software contractor for a few years, and I have seen some disfunctional companies. I have to agree with your practices, captain HR sqeakyclean, because I do the same to you.

        The boss I work for, the CIO, even you, get the same treatment you give me. So, if you are having problems with talent passing on your critical positions, well...you gave us the idea. Cat's out of the bag, good luck.

        To Slashdot: Yeah, I am sort of being ironic and cute turning the parent poster's idea around. But, really, do this. I have been called in for contracts where half the company is suing the other half, I have worked with religious right wing bigots, and I almost went to an interview with Infinnium labs before I found out about their craziness. As embarrassing as some photos of a drunken kegger might be for you, your employers probably have a whole lot more to hide than you do.
    • Re:No, they don't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by afidel (530433) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:40AM (#27061799)
      Good, if you disqualify my because of an opinion I have is different to yours I didn't want to work for you anyways! Really, who wants to work for close minded yes men? Personally I've always treated interviews as being mutual and have turned down jobs due to not liking the tone of the interview. I know that's easy to say but I actually did in during what turned out to be a 7 month stint of unemployment during the last recession. I found it's much better to find a job you love then it is to jump at the first opportunity, assuming you have your finances in order.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SirGarlon (845873)

        Really, who wants to work for close minded yes men?

        The entire White House staff of the former Bush Administration, evidently. ;-)

    • by golodh (893453) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:53AM (#27061865)
      The parent post is an excellent example of a manager attempting to think. Methodologically speaking, web presence is of course a very poor indicator of people's performance on the job.

      How so?

      Well, the people posting silly stuff about themselves tend to do so while thinking of a certain context and/or being in a particular state of mind (at home, relaxed, with friends, feeling in the mood for some snarkiness). So ... more often than not, context is half the message (if not more). But all and any context is lost in transmission via the Internet, thus loosing about half the message.

      Suppose on the other hand that someone *really* has something to hide. They would take exceptionally good care not to leave tracks that are easily available for a hiring manager with some time on his hands and itchy keyboard fingers. They would even change their name if necessary.

      Therefore Internet presence is likely to give false positives while false negatives are all but guaranteed. Whilst there might be some justification for Googling to see if people are "a Nazi child molester on the no-fly list", it's really unlikely that you'll find any such clear-cut evidence and for anything less what you find is hearsay evidence at best. It's not illegal, but neither is Tarot reading to screen applicants. But who cares, right?

      Hypocrisy, double standards, and CYA ("Cover Your Backside") tactics are as American as apple pie. And the impact on people trying to land a job is simply not the issue for the ones responsible for hiring someone.

      Why not?

      Well, how would you like to be the manager responsible for hiring someone who subsequently has an industrial accident (while cold sober), and whose web presence shows him/her writing something snarky about getting soused on the job? Or who is subsequently investigated for having one single marijuana plant at home and who has blogged about the virtues of said weed for relaxation? Or someone who creates racial tensions after being hired while his (somewhat racist) blog is there for the world to see? Or (if you work in catering or manufacture baby food) someone who turns out to be sloppy with hygiene when his Facebook page shows him in a messy kitchen?

      Would you feel comfortable when the word "due dilligence" is used around you afterwards? Would you like to hear your ambitious rival mouthing hypocritical guff about "putting the company first", "exercising commonsense when hiring people", or "being net-savvy" afterwards?

      No?

      Then you'd better use *all* online information you can Google your hands on in 5 minutes, right?

      I don't think that managers hiring people really believe that an unfortunate scrap of Facebook material makes someone unsuitable. It's just that they've got a choice to make (if they're hiring at all) and they can't waste all morning on it. Any reason to weed someone out that doesn't reflect poorly on them (better yet, which makes them look "savvy") in the eyes the only audience that counts (other executives) is a help.

      Fear of being unreasonably second-guessed is a major justification for a whole host of useless security boondoggles, and I firmly believe that it's also why we see employers Googling for people that send in their resume.

    • " Googling someone to see if they're a Nazi child molester on the no-fly list is perfectly legal, and as a hiring manager, you can bet I'm going to keep doing it.

      But don't Nazi children deserve to be molested?

  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:18AM (#27061355)
    Is it good to take a stand? Yes.

    Am I going to sacrifice my own career for this cause? No.

    While they shouldn't snoop, It isn't going to stop. Don't you snoop out your potential employers?

    Just don't let any non-friends see your Facebook.

    • Re:Well (Score:5, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:37AM (#27061463)
      I'm more worried that potential employers will discriminate against me because of my name. My father, Frosty Piss Sr. fought long and hard for respect even as friends suggested he change his name when he emigrated to the USA many years ago...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by daveime (1253762)

        Things were so much better in the old days in Siberia, where everyone knew of Frosty Piss.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrMista_B (891430)

      "Just don't let any non-friends see your Facebook."

      Alright. Don't ever stop being friends with them. Don't allow them to post photos of you elsewhere.

      Better advice? Stay the hell off Facebook, now and forever.

      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tsm_sf (545316) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:13AM (#27061677) Journal
        Or, and I know this is not a hugely great idea in a depression, only apply to jobs run by clueful people. The very idea that any law firm or financial institution that's been around since the seventies would find any of our generation's "excesses" shocking is, frankly, laughable. Get a few martinis in any old secretary and you will hear stories you will not fucking believe. We are amateurs.

        Of course, those of us who have opted to not have children (so far? who the hell knows) will always find it easier to stand on their principles. Welcome to Lifestyles of the Rich and Childless.
    • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467)

      This is where I get to call you a pansy for not standing up for yourself and get away with it because it's on topic.

      You don't even need a real tyrant to muzzle you -- you'll settle for an imaginary one.

      I wonder what a prospective employer might think of the value of your input after that -- at least one worth working for.

    • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) * on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:00AM (#27061599) Homepage Journal

      Is it good to take a stand? Yes.

      Am I going to sacrifice my own career for this cause? No.

      Damn. I thought I was going to get that job after you announced you were taking a stand.

      "It's good for you to take a stand. Good for me, that is."

    • Don't who said it but: "Principles are expensive, I try to have as few as possible".
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

      by Temujin_12 (832986) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:44AM (#27061819)

      Is it good to take a stand? Yes.

      Am I going to sacrifice my own career for this cause? No.

      If found this comment interesting. While I'm not commenting on you personally, the comment made me think of a Thomas Jefferson quote (of all things) that I think is especially poignant given recent events:

      We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds...[we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers... And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for[ another]... till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery... And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.

      When we live on or near the brink of destitution such that we are totally dependent on our jobs (read, debt and utter lack of savings), businesses/employers/government have all the power and the people will lack the courage to stand up for what is right.

      I'm not trying to be a doom-sayer here. Just pointing out a trend that I see where people often cite something unethical they see in their company or their industry in general but then never say anything about it because the potential retribution would lead to their economic demise. That, and I think that is one of the best Thomas Jefferson quotes ever.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DwySteve (521303)
        I agree wholeheartedly with that quote but we must remind ourselves that it isn't government who loads us down with debt, prevents us from saving and ties us to our jobs - it's us!
        Everyone wants a house (a BIG one!) without considering what it will do to their financial independence. People make gross financial decisions based on a multitude of assumptions (assuming I keep my job, get consistent 2% pay raises for 10 years, assuming gas stays at $1.00/gallon... yes, I can afford this house) and then their
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Interesting)

      by yttrstein (891553) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:13AM (#27061921) Homepage
      It can stop actually, in a way that's quite tried and true.

      All that needs to happen at this point is someone who's got some sort of acumen in public relations needs to head up (or just throw it up themselves) a site that contains a "blacklist" of companies who engage in such practices.

      I imagine a cross between the consumerist and fucked company.

      If it becomes "cool" to check such a place before even dreaming of applying for a job at a specific company, and if thereby enough people take part, it will scare the bejeezus out of the few big fish needed to get the ball rolling.
  • by eggman9713 (714915) <{eggman97132007} {at} {mac.com}> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:20AM (#27061365)
    If you work for an employer who does these sorts of sleazy things, why are you still employed there and not looking for another job? They obviously don't deserve your services. I know, I know, "the economy sucks"...but my point still stands.
    • We all benefit in many ways from the fact that our society is becomingly increasingly interconnected. However, that comes at a price. While I appreciate your opinion on the matter, I can assure you this trend is only going to accelerate.

      People need to understand a simple concept: if you wouldn't feel comfortable saying something in front of a packed auditorium, you probably shouldn't say it in a public forum online. I absolutely defend an individual's right to express his views as he sees fit; similarly, I absolutely defend an employer's right to base his hiring decision on all publicly available information.

      For some, increased transparency is a good thing. For others, it may prove more a hindrance. It's up to the individual to be conscious of how public actions may impact future opportunities.
      • by StingRay02 (640085) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:36AM (#27061455)

        People need to understand a simple concept: if you wouldn't feel comfortable saying something in front of a packed auditorium, you probably shouldn't say it in a public forum online.

        Absolutely. If you're comfortable voicing the opinions you put online anywhere else, then you're probably going to be miserable working for a company that refuses to hire you based on those opinions. If you're an asshat who likes to piss people off, then you're not likely to be working for anyone too long, anyway.

        I'm not a big fan of the trend towards using online personas against people, but I see it as a reverse filtering effect. "You don't like me. I don't like you. Glad we know this now."

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TapeCutter (624760)
        "For some, increased transparency is a good thing. For others, it may prove more a hindrance."

        Agreed! Censorship cuts both ways, it's pointless to blame others for you're inability to self-censor.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Why should you, as an employer, discriminate against an employee based on their political or other opinions, if those opinions are not expressed at work? While you may have the right to do so (under many circumstances), why would you want to? Isn't that unethical and immoral?

        Unless off-work behavior is directly affecting work, IMHO an employee's behavior outside the office or work hours is their own business. Different political views? Well, if I were actually running against an employee of mine there mi
      • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:46AM (#27061827)

        People need to understand a simple concept: if you wouldn't feel comfortable saying something in front of a packed auditorium, you probably shouldn't say it in a public forum online. I absolutely defend an individual's right to express his views as he sees fit; similarly, I absolutely defend an employer's right to base his hiring decision on all publicly available information.

        Shouldn't they be looking at, say, your ability to do the job and stay the fuck away from your personal life?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Your personal life is always going to influence your job, just as your job is always going to influence your personal life. Thinking that these two are mutually exclusive is silly.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Jurily (900488)

            Thinking that these two are mutually exclusive is silly.

            As long as I do my job right, the boss has nothing to do with my wife/drinking habits/whatever. And the people who aren't even my boss yet and still want to know, they can go fuck themselves.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kabocox (199019)

        People need to understand a simple concept: if you wouldn't feel comfortable saying something in front of a packed auditorium, you probably shouldn't say it in a public forum online. I absolutely defend an individual's right to express his views as he sees fit; similarly, I absolutely defend an employer's right to base his hiring decision on all publicly available information.

        Most folks view talking on the internet or even slashdot more akin to talking in a packed auditorium rather than in front of one. Hec

    • If you work for an employer who does these sorts of sleazy things, why are you still employed there and not looking for another job?

      Two possible answers (probably more):

      First, many people simply are not in a position to be that choosy about employers. Do you read the papers? The economy is not that great and employment opertunities are tight as unemployment rises, and wages stagnate or even drop.

      Second, what "HR" does is not always an accurate indicator of the quality of a particular employer. Often, initial vetting is out-sourced to Head Hunters. Often company layers (rabid cannibalistic weasels) insist on this type of background

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orzetto (545509)

      If you work for an employer who does these sorts of sleazy things, why are you still employed there and not looking for another job?

      That argument does not work well in a recession. Besides, even during economically good times, quitting your job may be not viable for a host of reasons, like having the only available job in little town, the only job close to significant other, being a PhD and thus overqualified for most jobs, working in a "non-essential" field of work (like IT is in the heads of some PHBs), a

  • use common sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    There are different levels of social networking. My direct supervisor knows that I have a facebook and that I post on slashdot. He knows how to find me on facebook, but not on slashdot (he doesn't know my handle).

    An employee that can't realize when it is appropriate to share, how much information to share, and when to post anon, is not an employee that I would hire.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:24AM (#27061385) Homepage

    ... in the hiring decisions. It's a good thing I checked on Slashdot before we ended up hiring Anonymous Coward.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:24AM (#27061391) Homepage

    The subject line says it all - if it's public, it isn't snooping.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:24AM (#27061393)

    First, I'm an employer. Welcome to well-rounded individuals. Try writing good things around the web, and perhaps your potential employers will prefer you because of your life. Write crap, and don't be surprised.

    But really, are you going to turn down a job offer because the potential employer searched for you? You can "tell" potential employers that you don't want them snooping, but that doesn't give them any negative for doing so -- you'll still accept the job offer.

    But you do have boat-loads of control over your own personal freedom and civil liberties. If you don't want others to judge you, you get to be the judge. Start your own business, and run it any way you choose.

    But if you're looking to benefit from someone else's proven model, someone else's money, and someone else's risk, then yeah your liberties are going to go unrespected because you're the one throwing them away.

    You want liberty, take a look at what it's like to have complete freedom over a business of your own. You'll find that it ain't liberating in the ways that you were hoping.

    By the way, it's excellent, and it's amazing, and I love every minute of it -- now I own and operate two and a half businesses because it's so great.

    As always, take the risk, stake your life, then you can have it your way. You want to be an employee, and have your employer tell you what to do and even pay your taxes for you (well, most of them anyway), then you'd better believe that employer is going to look into you.

    Besides, what's this liberty on the web crap? Public domain is the name of the game.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nicc777 (614519)

      As an employer myself I use the web searches as an extension of the background/reference checks. I do however prefer potential employees to give me reference sites - especially things like open source projects they are busy with. Checking their code on public projects is almost better then a test :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tsm_sf (545316)

      My experience is somewhat different...

      One company I hired for sorted applications based on resume writing style, then gave all the final candidates a logic test.

      One company requested an essay rather than a resume. The follow up interview was another essay written in the office.

      One company presented several different programming puzzles in the application.

      And, my god, one company hired based on the appearance of the female candidates.

      My (tortuously arrived at) point is this... if you're applying to a compa

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dhalka226 (559740)

        I know this is akin to telling a battered spouse that she should leave her husband, but seriously, do you need to be a tool all your life? You do have a choice.

        It's not exactly bad advice, nor is what the article's author has to say. It is somewhat poorly timed though, with the economic downturn.

        Do you need to be a tool all your life? It all depends. How in demand is your profession? How in demand are you in particular? What is your financial situation (ie, can you go a few months looking for a bette

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by teh kurisu (701097)

        You do have a choice.

        Not necessarily; if you're on Jobseekers Allowance for example you could lose your unemployment benefits [jobcentreplus.gov.uk] (PDF) by turning down a job. Admittedly that's still a choice, but one that's not necessarily viable.

        They do say "without good reason". I'm unsure about whether "they looked at information I made publicly available" would be a good enough reason, definitely worth asking Job Centre staff about first.

    • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:47AM (#27061833)

      But if you're looking to benefit from someone else's proven model, someone else's money, and someone else's risk, then yeah your liberties are going to go unrespected because you're the one throwing them away.

      I take exception to this remark; you're saying that only business owners get to have human rights - which is unvarnished bullshit.

      I work as a sysadmin in a private school. This is advantageous for both of us; they get a specialized person who can do a job no-one else there can, and I get to spend all my time working on the job I'm good at, instead of spending half my time on drumming up business and paperwork.

      I've worked for big companies, I've worked for small companies, I've even run a my own (very small) company. As an employer, you get to judge me on my public life; that's why it's public. You don't get to dig up my private and family life as bluntly, it's none of your damn business. I don't give up my right of free speech and right to privacy (which IS a human right in the EU) just because you pay me money to do work you can't.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by holophrastic (221104)

        HEY! That's how I started! Sysadmin for a private high school! I was actually a student there too -- got paged out of classes. Really great when the librarian would pull me out of calculus for tech support.

        Incidentally, it's worth noting, in that case you're the business owner -- well, there's no "business" per se, but you're the sole proprietor for hire.

        As an employer, I don't have time to dig at all. But as you've said, your public life doesn't require digging. But I think you've mis-spoken when you

    • by yttrstein (891553) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:21AM (#27061959) Homepage
      I'm also an employer, and I disagree with you completely. I operate by a more modern meme; the one that states beyond repute that an employee that trusts his or her employer is an employee who themselves can be trusted. An employee who does not trust their employer *will* result in lost revenue in some way; be it by slacking off most of their day, all the way up to walking out with equipment.

      I would never "check up" on the personal life of any employee, prospective or hired. And I've torn up contracts with companies who think it's somehow alright for them to not only research the personal lives of MY employees, but also to discuss their (negative) opinions of their private lives with me.

      As a result, the churn around these parts is very close to zero. I don't have to spend a fortune training new employees all the time. I don't have to pay anyone exorbitant salaries to keep them honest and loyal. And I've managed to assemble a rock-solid, brilliant team who individually may or may not be involved in some pretty weird shit after work.

      But it's none of my business. I don't care, because the whole point of business is to make money. Whether or not Jonas or Pip are doing bonghits with shorn goats whilst listening to devil music in their underpants after work is none of my concern at all, so long as they do their job, do it well, and get everything done on time.

      It's all I ask, and it's precisely what I get.
  • You can tell your interviewer to not troll for information on google but it just will raise red flags. If I were hiring someone and was asked not to search their name, that would be the first thing I'd do after they'd left.

    It's up to the individual to be vigilant and not surrender too much personal information.

    I also think it depends what kind of search the interviewer is conducting. Just the name is good enough and isn't unethical. But it could quickly cross the line if you geek out and start running boole

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:26AM (#27061403)
    Employers do not care about the web ethos or whether snooping is fair or not, they only care about risk, profit, and loss. Information, regardless of how it is obtained, has bottom line dollar value to marketers, insurance companies, potential employers etc so any information they find on the web, whether favorable or unfavorable, will be used in the hiring decision. That is just reality and no amount of legislation or penalties will stop that or put the web genie back in the bottle. Really, unless you are a public figure then why do you have to put your real name out there along with whatever it is that you say? Use a pseudonym and say what you want, but be careful to never connect it or allow it to be connected to your real name ever. First rule of the web: never provide your real identity when a fake will do.
    • by Nick Ives (317)

      Really, unless you are a public figure then why do you have to put your real name out there along with whatever it is that you say?

      Because nobody should ever be ashamed of who they are or feel they need to hide themselves in order to conform to some "professional" ideal.

      I'm just as outspoken IRL as I am online, even at work. I actually get quite a lot of respect for it in fact, so yea, employers acting like in the TFA are probably crap places to work anyway.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:32AM (#27061759) Homepage

      Really, unless you are a public figure then why do you have to put your real name out there along with whatever it is that you say? Use a pseudonym and say what you want, but be careful to never connect it or allow it to be connected to your real name ever. First rule of the web: never provide your real identity when a fake will do.

      Because it's really, really hard to compartmentalize your life that way. There's a reason the government runs into a million miles of red tape when they do. For example, it's pretty hard not to talk so much about yourself that you could verify whether a suspected person is or is not the one hiding under this nick. That makes it quite dangerous even if they can do nothing more than to hook your pseudonyms up with the pseudonyms of your friends. Let me try to make an example:

      Say you're part of a small WoW clan with your real life friends. Obviously your friends know your real identity but they won't reveal it and you don't need the WoW world at large to know so you use a pseudonym and since it's a gaming forum you never really tell much about yourself. And you post on slashdot under the same pseudonym. Then in some post you mention in a comment to a gaming article that you played in a WoW guild with friends.

      Now comes an asshat, searches your slashdot history, finds that reference and the nicks of the others in the clan. No biggie, nothing much interesting there. But then he digs on their nicks, and they've been a bit careless and sloppy, finding their real names hooked to those nicks. Using that it's not so hard to find real world connections, and among them there's you. So far it's really all speculation on using the same nick and whatever but then he starts matching the real life with your slashdot posts and if it's a match he posts it up. Game over, everything you ever said on slashdot is now linked to your real world identity even though you've been really careful. And any other pseudonym you ever linked to your slashdot identity again and so on.

      I don't think what I've described here is so unusual - you have your real life persona, you have your pure online identities but then you have all these places where you meet somewhere in the middle like a pseudonymous blog about real life and online communities with real life friends. Unless you're really, really careful they will link all of this together and these are like dams that can only be broken, never rebuilt. And most people don't realize until the tidal wave is coming.

  • by n1hilist (997601) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:33AM (#27061445)

    1. Set your facebook/irc/whatever status to reflect your positive attitude towards your corporate masters.

    2. Blog and upload photos on your various social accounts showing how dedicated you are to working over time and how you're doing it for the team dispite not getting paid!

    3. ??

    4. Profit!

  • Yes! (Score:4, Funny)

    by syousef (465911) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:40AM (#27061487) Journal

    In fact answer all interview questions with: "None of your business" or "I don't see how that's relevant". If pressed act paranoid and ask if they're secretly with the government.

    I also recommend walking in and setting the interviewer's desk and chair on fire. After all you need a way to distinguish yourself from other candidates. If you still aren't sure you'vet made an impression you can poke them in the eye just to be absolutely certain.

    Well either that or you can just realise that everything on the web is public and that when you're interviewing for a job any employer might not be able to by law hire at their whim, but in practice that's how it works. If you're a professional keep your public information respectable, or use a pseudonym that isn't easily traced back to you. Drunken photos and rants about sexual exploits are not a good career move. In some circumstances participating in a flame war is inadvisable.

    • I also recommend walking in and setting the interviewer's desk and chair on fire. After all you need a way to distinguish yourself from other candidates. If you still aren't sure you'vet made an impression you can poke them in the eye just to be absolutely certain.

      I followed your advice. I didn't get hired, but they gave me a great letter of recommendation when I mentioned I had an interview with a competitor of them later that day.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:45AM (#27061517) Homepage

    It's next to impossible to determine why a potential employee was not hired unless you have a telepath handy. So no matter how many rules and guidelines and whatnot you draft up, you can't stop people doing it. A typical example has been landlord and tenants - many people have a spare apartment and rent that out. Now in aggregate it's fairly obvious to see that there's some discrimination going on, but trying to somehow prove racism from a landlord choosing one tenant just never happens. Only if there's a repeated pattern of some clearly identifiable trait do you have a shot at it. Obviously a hiring manager is hiring a lot of people so you got quantity. You could probably pick up on him never hiring blacks or woman or people he suspects to be muslims or gays. But proving him disqualifying a very non-specific group of people on vastly different reasons he found online? Not happening.

    I'm not trying to argue the morality of it, surely they should leave things alone unless it got good reason to impact your work relationship. But 99% of the time you won't even know you've been victim of it, and even if you do 99% of the time you couldn't prove it. A long shot lawsuit against a corporation for not hiring you, while you're presumably busy seeking other jobs and burning through your nest egg already? Please. The closest thing you can hope for is that these companies miss out on a lot of great talent and that the market will even it out a bit. For you personally it's still the far better option to keep your private life private.

  • Post whatever you'd like, no one reads /.

    Well no one important.
  • by Ghubi (1102775) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:04AM (#27061621) Homepage
    Lets all change our names to John Smith. Yeah, Google that biches.
  • by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:04AM (#27061625) Homepage Journal

    If an employer doesn't like what they find, I don't want to work for them.

    I even have a "best way to google my name" section on my resume:

    "Greg Barton" java -indonesia -kayak -mozart -football

    i.e. I'm the Greg Barton who's a java programmer, but not the Indonesia expert, olympic kayaker, football coach, or Mozart scholar.

    That actually helped me get in the door on my current job. :)

    • by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:43AM (#27061809) Homepage

      Hmm.... From that search string I would guess you are:

      'Greg Barton', and not 'Greg "Farton" Barton' as your schoolmates used to call you. (And then proceeded to google-bomb unquoted searches for your name) Last summer you had a really nice vacation to Java and all, however it quickly turned bad after arriving in Indonesia.

      The Java vacation photos: Good.
      The Indonesia vacation photos: Bad, especially the ones where you've got white powder remains under your nose and two (rather cute) young Indonesian boys on each arm. (Legalities keep you safe)

      That kayak accident? Real nasty. A moments of inattention and the world lost one of the best piano players of Mozart's great works. You every right in the world to blow up like that, he was just plain _rude_.

      You love football. The one where they use their feet.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @06:41AM (#27062495)

      I even have a "best way to google my name" section on my resume:

      "Greg Barton" java -indonesia -kayak -mozart -football

      I have something similar in my resume to help employers filter out the irrelevant things:

      "John Doe" -drunk -idiot -fired -"bad worker" -theft -stole

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:08AM (#27061643)
    by law to give prospective employees an honest reason why they were rejected. I know they don't like to do this because of potential repercussions, but that is really not as big of an issue as they try to make it.

    The explanation can be as simple as "others were more qualified". There is nothing wrong with this explanation. But if the real reason is different ("I liked the look of Potential Secretary X's legs better", then they should not lie about it... although they will anyway. The point is that they should not, and there should be a rule saying that they should not. It distorts the employment market, which is detrimental to commerce and to society in general.

    This would solve a lot of problems. It would help prospective employees actually find out what their weak spots are as far as the job market is concerned (rather than just being told "we picked somebody else"), and thus it would help match up companies with the employees they are actually looking for. Note that someone who is job hunting cannot improve their skills to get a good job if they are misled about what skills are in demand.

    Also, if there were actually a law about it, if someone felt that they were rejected for unfair reasons ("the other candidate gave me oral sex"), they would actually have some recourse. Hard to prove? Sure. But if they CAN prove it, then at least they could get some compensation... as they should be able to, because by being rejected under false pretenses, they not only lose a potential job but they are not given the information they need to improve themselves so that they can get another.

    I am not talking about discrimination here. I am talking about honesty in hiring. Two very different things. Discrimination laws might (in some cases) make it illegal to hire the person who gave you oral sex, if others were more qualified. My proposed law is not about discrimination at all. As long as you told the rejects honestly why they were rejected, then you would have nothing to worry about... except those discrimination laws of course, which you would have to worry about anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant (803320)
      There should be a rule of etiquitte that potential employers acknowledge receipt of an application within some reasonable timeframe... I've gotten "thank you for your application" letters from the larger corporations up to 2 years after sending them in, and, of course, the smaller ones often don't answer at all.

      If we can't even get acknowledgment of receipt, how could we ever get a meaningful answer as to why the application was rejected?

      On the other side of the fence, the first opening I advertised i
  • Obligatory xkcd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:21AM (#27061719)
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @03:54AM (#27061867) Journal
    My real name isn't MrKaos.
  • by shentino (1139071) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @05:12AM (#27062123)

    Well, seeing as employers are often richer than employees...

    This is just a case of "The one who has the gold makes the rules", and power structures being what they are, bosses will do as they please online unless stopped by someone bigger, and quite frankly, a polite request from an employee not to be snooped is, at least from the POV of the boss:

    1) A tacit admission they have something to hide
    2) A challenge to their authority to check out their employee as they see fit, and be damned with ethics.

    Never mind that search engines can associate you with the wrong things if you have the misfortune of having the wrong name. And never mind that some sleazeball who hates your guts could ruin your life by spamdexing your name along with some raunchy terms (like hentai).

    Employers who look through web profiles are just rummaging through garbage heaps and do so at their own risk. Because while an employee may have little control over what else his online persona may be associated with (again, other people with same name), but there is also little control for the employer. However, that doesn't stop them.

    So:

    Surf defensively, because bosses have hooked a nice source of information, and like it or not, they ain't letting go. One may as well bow to the inevitable, submit to their place on the totem pole of power, and simply suck it up, keep their online presence clean, and cross their fingers that they won't be unlucky enough to be victimized by a search engine blunder that misassociates them.

    Because, in the end, it's all about power. Are you going to resist a google search just on principle? Or are you going to be wise and realize that you ultimately have no control over what your boss is going to look for.

    And if you're a boss, take your googles with a grain of salt. You're casting a pretty big fat net when you google someone, and no telling what you'll find, or even if what you dig up has any relevance. Remember that people other than your candidate have influence over what you will find.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @06:50AM (#27062545)
    Now HR people can have another reason to justify their existence AND justify wasting time on facebook! I suppose it's better than playing pretend psychologist or playing Wonder Woman with the polygraph lariat of truth. Remember kids, it's nothing personal when you get rejected, it's just the modern equivalent of chicken gizzards look wrong.
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @08:39AM (#27063085)

    Really, if you're worried about what potential employers might think of you, you could just try not acting like a dick.

    Or you could just use a made-up name. Do as I say or do as I do. Take your pick.

  • Freedom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fudgefactor7 (581449) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @09:12AM (#27063257)
    You bet we should tell perspective employers to STFU about what we do off-hours; however, they will also be the first to tell you that how you act away from the office reflects on them since it will become known for whom you are employed. By taking a stand in this manner, you effectively tell them "Don't hire me, I like to express myself." Also, keep in mind there are "right to work" states, that allow for hiring and firing for no reason whatsoever.

    So, if you're going to post on Slashdot, Digg, or wherever, use a name that isn't who you are. Do you think my mother named me "Fudgefactor7?" Get real.
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @10:04AM (#27063719) Journal

    You have the right to say pretty much what you want without the government interfering. But, that doesn't mean there will not be repercussions of said speech.

    It is not snooping to see what you have said in public. Yes, the internet is a public place and if you have a tendency to say and do things that would be embarrassing or disconcerting to a prospective employer, don't be surprised when the prospective employer search public information and decides you are not what he wants for an employee.

    Stop being a dumb-ass and keep your private life private and quit flaunting your stupidity in public if you don't want it held against you.

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