They Aren’t Just Checking References Any More

For the longest time, employers would do simple background checks. They had a potential employee complete a job application that asked for three professional references. Before the employee was hired, the three would receive a telephone call and tell the potential employer that the job applicant was a wonderful individual who would do incredible things, just as they had done before.

For a while, polygraphs or lie detectors became part of the standard arsenal of checking until, fortunately, legislation was passed in many states eliminating them as tools because they were notoriously inaccurate.

In a recent poll, 87% of employers surveyed were searching the web for information about new hires and 52% had eliminated a candidate based upon something they found there.

A few years ago, a manager I was recruiting for at a hedge fund Googled the name of a job applicant for a technical position and found a posting where he had written about suffering large trading losses and wanted to join a company where he could learn what he did wrong. ­­In other words, learn how my client traded and steal the model. Suffice it to say, the candidate was rejected without an interview.

Companies are examining listings on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to determine whether a job applicant might have done something inappropriate. Some are going so far as contacting people with whom you are connected on these sites to do clandestine background checks.

And, as they have for years, many are doing background checks including investigations of your financial responsibility (credit checks).

So, remember that picture in the belly shirt with the beer in your hand toasting the photographer you posted on myspace three years ago? And remember that picture that was taken of you streaking through the frat house when you were 19 that’s still on your webpage?

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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