By Jason Warner — There has been a lot of press regarding the implications for job seeker of Those Photos on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites. You know the pictures I’m referring to…
As the leader of large corporate recruiting organizations (now Google, and before that at Starbucks) I have a different perspective.
We are in a new and unprecedented time with regard to the level of transparency the Internet creates between jobseekers and employers. More than ever before, jobseekers today know way more about the companies they might work for (and the people inside those companies, if you check OfficeBallot and Vault, for example), and employers know more about the candidates they might want to hire.
But here are five reasons that employers are not going to spend their time worrying about your unfortunate online photos – and other embarrassing antics from earlier years.
1. There is nothing any of us can do to change the behavior of college students.
From what I can tell, these, er…, activities have been happening in one form or another for as long as there have been colleges. Which is a very long time indeed. Our parents just didn’t mention it.
2. As time goes on, more and more detail about all of us will be found online.
Instead of a snippet or an indiscrete photo, there will be entire personal and professional “dossiers” about all of us and that information will be far more influential than a few unfortunate and unfocused pictures. For example, a blog is an excellent example of the sort of information that might be relevant to employers, if only to get a sense of how a potential hire communicates in writing. Half-naked underwear shots through a tequila-stained lens…not so valuable.
3. Searching for Those Photos won’t be worth our time.
As the velocity of job changes continues to move along at a rapid pace, and talent moves into and out of organizations more frequently than ever before. Most studies indicate that corporate recruiting departments are continuing to be strained to do more with less. So recruiters won’t have time to go hunting for Those Photos when there’s not much return on that investment.
4. The information isn’t relevant anyway.
Those Photos are representative of behaviors that many young candidates experience, and don’t likely correlate to on the job performance. If we have the bravery to get real about the topic, we all recognize that there a lot of things we do in private that we wouldn’t shared in public. Given the reach and permanence, the Internet just provides a smaller margin of error for revealing these natural human slips.
5. Its a slippery slope that could be bad for employers.
Today there is a fuzzy but growing distinction that companies will continue to draw between candidate professional experiences, competencies, and capabilities and their private lives and outside behaviors. It’s a line we don’t likely want to cross, because if we cross it for candidates, we may cross it for employees, and that compounds the problem to a monumentally greater degree.
In most cases, Those Photos will become a non-issue as this phase of the Internet Age plays itself out. Indeed, the leading companies in talent acquisition will continue to refine their hiring processes to become more and more scientific over time, because we now have much more data and tools to quantify what drives performance inside our companies.
However, the vast majority of selection processes at companies aren’t based on data-driven analysis as much as on interview processes that are far from scientific. So, there certainly is risk in posting Those Photos online. But that risk should diminish over time.