It’s dangerous to Google someone and then not give them a job – particularly if you tell them what you found and also keep a copy somewhere. Here a potential employer blogged about not hiring someone because she tweeted “I can’t bludge anymore”. Commonsense says you wouldn’t want that person as an employee but what does the law say?

I did a co-presentation with Nick from Tresscox on the law and recruitment. Now I’m not a lawyer – I don’t even charge $$$ like one 😛 – but what he had to say about the Privacy Commission was interesting:

  • collecting tweets – e.g. copying and pasting them into a personnel file or a blog post is uncool
  • copyright – using material from the social networking site for business purposes might contravene Facebook etc. T&C
  • Collection includes “gathering, acquiring or obtaining personal information by any source and any means” is a no-no

most of this applies to companies with annual turnover of $3million or more. At that point I went back to sleep – wake me when I’m making that much.  Lawyers pfft. 😛 But the one message I did get was that Googling someone, finding their tweets and facebook stuff, making a decision on not hiring them due to that, then telling them that was the reason can get you into hot water. The example Nick gave was telling someone they didn’t get the job as they said they were pregnant on Facebook and the position couldn’t afford to give time off for maternity leave.

Here’s Jen Bishop’s Dynamic Business post:

We’ve been advertising for an online journalism intern for the website. On Friday, I was emailed what sounded like a very promising application from a second year uni student. I was about to get her in for an interview when I forwarded it to my colleague Dave, the web editor.

Social media-minded as ever, he checked out her Twitter profile. You would not believe her most recent tweet to a friend: “Did I tell you I can’t bludge anymore at work? My boss sits RIGHT next to me… I think he knows I do jack all!”

Two words: oh dear!

These days it’s pretty standard to Google people who apply for a job you’re advertising. It’s now the norm to check people’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, especially when you’re employing Gen Y people and when you’re a Gen Y employer, which I am. We were of course hoping to find out that someone applying for an online journalism internship was social media savvy. We weren’t trying to catch anyone out. But suffice to say she won’t be getting an interview. [LP italics]

The girl I mention is a student so some would say let her write what she likes in her personal Twitter profile, right? Maybe. But would you want her in your office after reading that?

Did I mention her Twitter bio simply says ‘potty mouth’?

I rest my case.

Now I don’t like putting Jen on the spot  but she won’t be the only potential employer that treads a fine line. She’s a smart cookie, and probably making less than $3m a year anyway. Other incredibly intelligent people – i.e. me mates  on Twitter – disagree with me on the danger:

DJackmanson My point remains. Just because they’re dumb enough to admit the reason publically doesn’t mean others will make the same mistake

RobIrwin But that’s not the employer giving a direct reason to the applicant, is it? For all we know, there could be some artistic license

Cacotopus might be, but try proving that is why you weren’t given an interview…

Caveat: pretty sure none of ’em are lawyers either. Not sure what they do for gainful employment. Probably unemployable due to what they tweet. *end fake snark*

I think Privacy laws should be changed. Will make for a much more honest and transparent workplace though I guess our young non-intern might not appreciate that honesty… not now anyway.

Cisco Fatty story looks interesting in this light as well.

and one more time: I’m not a lawyer. If you take legal advice from me you are a complete and utter nutter.  This is just here to start a discussion…

here’s the Privacy Commission on Social networking:

Social Networking

  1. What are social networking sites? Answer
  2. Are there any privacy risks associated with using social networking sites? Answer
  3. Do I have rights under the Privacy Act when I use social networking sites? Answer
  4. I have a privacy-related complaint about a social networking site. Who can I complain to? Answer
  5. Are organisations allowed to use the personal information I post on social networking sites? Answer
  6. How long does my information stay on social networking sites? Answer
  7. What can I do to protect my privacy when using social networking sites? Answer
  8. What can I do if someone posts information about me on a social networking site that I want removed? Answer
  9. What can I do if I’m being threatened, harassed or defamed online? Answer
  • Where can I go for more help? Answer
  • Hat tip to Michael Axelsen for the Privacy Link.
    There’s probably two issues here – can employers use personal information (married/not married, gay/religion, pregnant) from social networking sites to base a decision on employment. I’m guessing no. Can employers google you then collate that information as part of your HR record? I’m guessing no again. If you publish – that word that noone but journalists understand – on a public broadcasting site (Twitter or an open Facebook account) that you hate the job you are going to and only doing it for the fat paycheck e.g. Cisco Fatty case above, I think you might be skating on thin ice.