Re: Hiring Practices

Subject: Re: Hiring Practices
From: Lisa Higgins <lisa -at- DRDDO1 -dot- EI -dot- LUCENT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 1997 13:24:22 +0000

> 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.
> I think the the original poster agrees, a little, with this. I know I do.
> But, like everything else, it depends upon the use it's being put to. If
> I'm hiring someone, if behooves me to get as much solid info about
> technique and capability as I can.

I design and write webpages for a living. My personal webpages are
broken, silly, poorly designed, and out-of-date because I am busy
writing webpages for work, and maintaining my personal pages is
pretty close to the bottom of my priorities list.

Of course, I don't really care, either. If someone is going to make a
hiring decision based on my personal webpages, then I guess I will
enjoy a hearty laugh at their expense. (Especially since I'm not
looking for a job now.)

> That having been said, I should hasten to add that this additional
> information should be weighed differently than the samples provided in an
> interview. It's obvious that, for one reason or another, the candidate
> doesn't consider this "best work." If it were, it'd be in the portfolio.

Or maybe it's none of your business. Maybe it's a webpage about
panic disorders, heart conditions, depression, or some other medical
condition. Maybe it's a "Tips for Single Parents" page, or a series
of essays on being a Muslim in a Christian society.

I'm not implying that anyone here is intentionally using this type of
information unethically. What I am saying is that there is a
potential for that--what if, instead of Muslim, the candidate were a
practicing Satanist? Can you honestly say that you can ignore that
fact when you're making your decision? If you are in the U.S., I
believe you have to.

> While it may be true that a bad match doesn't do anyone any favors,
> that's not your decision to make. It's the candidate's.
> Sorry, there I disagree with you. Yes, I know unscrupulous and nasty
> employers have abused the privilege. But I think that particular street
> supports two-way traffic.

Perhaps I wasn't as clear as I could've been. What I mean is
that if a candidate provides you with information about their
personal situation, such as number of children, religion, medical
conditions, and so forth, that candidate has chosen to do so. It is
not your place to ferret that information out, nor is it the
candidate's place to ask you personally about your affiliations.

I personally encourage illegal behavior on potential employers'
parts. I tell them that I am a mom because I am not going to work for
someone who's going to discriminate against people based on sex and
family status.

Of course, if they fail to offer me a position based on that, I might
nail them anyway, just so they don't do it to anyone else.

> Just as you have the right to decide whether the
> job I offer is worth the conditions I offer it under, I have the right to
> decide that you're not worth the hassle it'd be to have you around and
> decline to offer it.

If you are in the U.S., and the source of the potential "hassle" is
my child, my sex, my religion, or my race, then you are wrong.

> The attitude expressed in the above quote seems to me both hypocritical and
> arrogant. The prospective employer is expected to bare all about the
> company working conditions, and is villified for not doing so (has happened
> many times on this list); yet the prospective employee is allowed to
> provide as little information as possible, and is protected in doing so.

For crying out loud, I am talking about protected information
here. I do not argue with not hiring someone based on personality.
How someone fits in with the company they work for is an excellent
predictor of both the person's and the company's success.

Ask the candidate about personal interests, work habits, experience,
favorite cheese, or whether they prefer pie with or without a top
crust. Make a decision based on that person's personality. But
kibozing the net for personal information is a big, fat, stinky,
rotten idea. It's going to turn something up that's not your
business. It's going to turn up protected information that you are
not allowed to ask, and that's laying you wide open for speculation.
I am not a lawyer, but I'd venture a guess that it is also illegal to
seek out this information through alternate means as well.

> The prospective employee is encouraged to discover as much as possible
> about the employer before, during and after the interview, yet the employer
> is bad if there is any attempt to discover anything at all the prospective
> employee doesn't want to talk about. Why are newspaper articles about a
> company OK, but your personal web page off-limits? All I'm saying is that
> both sides deserve a level field.

My personal web-page is not off-limits, but most personal web pages
contain protected information that is not kosher for making hiring
decisions in the US.

And the differences between an individual's personal web pages and
newspaper articles about a corporation are myriad.

You can refuse to hire Leona Helmsley as a customer service rep based
on information you got from newspaper articles if you want to, just
like I can refuse to work for Higher Source based on same.

The fact is, though, that the corporations have a hell of a lot more
money and power than you and me. What employment laws there are are
nothing but a feeble and ineffectual attempt to even out the playing

Poor multi-billion dollar corporations! They are not allowed to
discriminate against all them ditzy broads and greasy furriners who
are all the time bothering them!

> What's on the 'net is public information (I mean publicly available, not
> publicly owned). If you're ashamed of it, don't put it out here. If you're
> not ashamed of it, why do you care if I look at it?

I think this is very simple. Apparently, it is not.

I am not ashamed of information I post or publish on a personal web
page. I am not ashamed of being female. I am not ashamed of
being a mommy. I make that information publicly available on a
fairly regular basis.

Give me reason to believe that you're making hiring decisions based
on those facts, though, and I will do everything in my power to shut
you down. Not because I want your job, but because there's some other
mommy out there who needs it, and you're doing the same thing to her.

That is illegal. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming
that you are not talking about protected information. That is,
however, what I am and have been talking about all along.

lhiggins -at- lucent -dot- com

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