Re: Hiring Practices

Subject: Re: Hiring Practices
From: Pete Kloppenburg <pkloppen -at- CERTICOM -dot- CA>
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 1997 12:03:33 -0500

I must agree with Lisa Higgins on this point. She quotes
Doreen Mannion, who wrote:
>I haven't tried that bit of candidate research, but
>have used search engines to look "in general" where a candidate may
>have posted or to see if they have a home page. This is risky
>business, however; with all the legalities involved in hiring,

And Lisa replied:

> Using a search engine to try to find a candidate's postings and/or
> personal web page when they have not specifically volunteered this
> information is not just unethical, IMO, but potentially illegal.

Conducting a gill-net search over the Internet for information about
a job candidate crosses a line. There are laws about what you can
ask someone in a job interview, and they are there for a reason. Such
background searches surely contravene the spirit of those laws. No
doubt Doreen uses her best judgment on what she finds, but I
don't think that justifies anything.

Somebody on this list will immediately say that Internet postings and
home pages are public utterances, and if you don't want anybody
to see them, you shouldn't post. However, there is all sorts of
information about us all which can be obtained legally from public
sources; it still isn't legal to use it in a hiring situation.

It would be easy to make some sensationalist analogies, or to draw
some grim worst-case scenarios, but I think that even an understatement
of this problem is horrific enough. I'm going to go out on a limb
here and say that Doreen does not have an English degree. And she
prefers candidates (all other things being equal, yes) who also
don't have English degrees. So she likes to hire people who
resemble herself in some ways.

Well, that happens all the time, doesn't it. Under certain circumstances,
that's illegal, but there are all sorts of situations in which we all find that
acceptable. But I think that when you combine that tendency with the
ability to do broad searches over the Internet on people's backgrounds,
there is a tremendous danger, even to well-meaning folk.

I'm sure I could go on about this, but I won't. This post is too long already.
Suffice to say, I would not attempt to research a candidate beyond what
they offer.

Pete Kloppenburg - pkloppen -at- certicom -dot- ca
Technical Writer
Mississauga, Ontario

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