Corporate Eye

What to do when you’ve Googled a candidate?

Thursday Bram offers us some tips on what to do when you’ve Googled someone’s name. We’ve all done it; but what do you do with the results?

If you run an online search on a job applicant, you can find pages and pages of information. For some names, search engines like Google can return millions of results. Interpreting all of that information — and ensuring that it’s truly relevant to a candidate — can take a little work.

Reading Social Networking Profiles

It’s common to find at least one social networking website in the results of a search for a particular name. Depending on the site, you may need a membership to view a profile or you may need to be ‘friends’ with an individual to look at their results. In other cases, you may be able to access a person’s full profile immediately. If you can access a profile, you can find a wealth of information: links to personal websites as well as accounts on other networking sites, details about past employment (sometimes even links to supervisors) and perhaps even updates written by the job candidate.

Reading through such information can be a lengthy process, especially if a candidate has maintained a blog or online journal for a long period of time. You can use Google or another search engine’s advanced search panel to search a website for particular keywords — if, for instance, you want to know about a candidate’s relationship with a former employer, you can search his or her blog for mentions of that company.

Interpreting Other Results

Results can range far beyond social networking profiles: if a prospective employee has been mentioned in a newspaper article or maintains a website, you’re likely to see such information in the results for his or her name. You can find products an applicant has endorsed and awards he or she has won. Not all of this information is relevant beyond proving a resume true or false, but it can help to build a clearer picture of a particular candidate — and help you make a decision on whether such an individual would be a good fit for a particular job.

Finding the Right John Smith

When you research a potential employee with an unusual name, it’s relatively easy to determine which search results are pertinent. On social networking sites, you can quickly compare education or work histories. On personal sites, it’s just a matter of looking for a reference to a particular employer.

But when you’re considering an applicant with a common name, you may run into a few more problems. No one wants to hold a job candidate responsible for the actions of someone else — even if they share a name — but it can be difficult to find an indicator that you’ve got the wrong John Smith. You can narrow down the search results by including a middle name, a location or a company in your search. You can also use other information to narrow down your hunt: running a search on a candidate’s email address can provide relevant information, as can searching a previous employer’s website for mentions of that employee’s name.

So: when you’ve got your search results, there is often more to be done to ensure you’ve got to the bottom of your candidate’s story …

Thanks, Thursday!

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