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Should we re-examine the way we examine candidates?

As financial professionals, we know that we don’t exactly have reputations for being wild and crazy. But we were all young(er) once. Even 10 years ago, there weren’t nearly as many forums as there are today for our occasional lapses of judgment to find a permanent home.

These days, though, it’s not at all uncommon to hear about employers using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and personal blogs to get the low down on job applicants. In fact, CareerBuilder put the number of employers who make use of the practice at 45% in August 2009.

Certainly, candidates for any job are growing more conscious of what might be lurking behind a simple name search on any social site. But a new question is being asked about the validity of using the results of that search to disqualify a candidate for a position. While many jobs require a credit check, those submitting to the check know that it’s going to take place and an employer must tell candidates why they’re no longer under consideration if the reason is related to credit.

With social searches, no such protection exists for a candidate. It can be argued that if anyone has been considering a job search, this topic has probably come up from the standpoint of managing his or her reputation. Many people let their lives play out online with very few filters. This is neither wrong nor right.

The question is: should that transparency go both ways? Should an employer be obligated to tell a candidate that he or she didn’t get the job because of a picture that popped from an old fraternity party? If so, that would at least provide an opportunity to try and fix the situation before another potential employer finds it.

What are your thoughts?