What happens in Vegas, stays on Facebook

We all know the classic movie-line “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Whilst that may have been true some two short decades ago, unfortunately we should be phrasing this more like “what happens in Vegas, stays on Facebook”.

Many of you will remember how old Facebook posts came back to haunt Adam Shapiro, son of politician David Shapiro: (https://www.mysuncoast.com/2018/11/21/posts-social-media-come-back-haunt-those-politics-sports-suncoast/ )

The reality is that whilst politicians in the past have deployed lots of effort and money to dig up dirt on each other during political campaigns, it’s becoming easier, cheaper and quicker than ever to form a “full historical timeline” of anyone on the internet with automation and robotics.

Let that sink in for a moment…you can’t remember all of yesterday’s meetings, yet at the click of a button I can tell you how many times you were checked in at the pub down the road by friends in the last year. Or even zoom in on that time (5 years ago) when you shared that off-centre joke about a political party (for whom your company now does strategic consulting).

With a simple software robot someone can scrape every post, check-in, like and shared article that you have made online since you (unwittingly) started building a trail of digital crumbs back in your high-school or college years.

In my previous article (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/stop-responding-customer-queries-how-get-ahead-your-ignoring-botha/), I examined how an actual person on LinkedIn was advertising outdated skills (such as dealing with each and every customer query manually).

One of these posted skills was around “candidate screening”. While I do believe that this is still a science and an art to get high quality candidate screening right, it’s absolutely amazing how few HR-professionals, hiring executives and small business owners are using the technology available today to speed up and improve on this process.

Some of the readers might scoff at the idea of going beyond reading only the material (CV and maybe a covering letter) presented by the candidate before the interview. Some of you might be sitting there thinking “where do we draw the line on respecting privacy and when do we know we are digging too deep?”

In my mind it’s simple: People don’t willingly put things on the internet to hide it! If you can find information with a Google search or on an open social media profile, so can the rest of the world…which includes your competitors and the media!

We all know (even about ourselves) that a CV is the most polished version of a self-reflection, so bringing in the social media screening aspect is not only a risk prevention measure for adverse skeletons that lie in wait, but also brings a balanced view of a candidate that may not necessarily be reflected accurately on their latest and greatest CV you were studying before the interview.

But that brings me to my next point: in the endless pursuit of being relevant, social media platforms are very good at only showing posts that are viral or very recent. Go and test this for yourself, it’s very easy to see everyone’s latest memes and profile-pic updates, but its particularly hard to find that one off-centre post you made in 2013 that received only one “like”. Well, it’s difficult until you end up in the spotlight and someone needs dirt on you!

So, enter technology. Specifically, Robotic Process Automation.

The video below introduces a digital HR assistant that performs exactly this task:

You will have to figure out the ethics around whether you inform candidates that you will be performing a social media background screening on them or not. In my view, we certainly don’t put stuff on the internet to hide it (e.g. I am not trying to hide this article from you and you certainly do not need to text me for permission before reading it).

In conclusion:

1.      Where you needed a private investigator to dig up dirt on someone previously, you can probably do it on their social media nowadays – this is not a suggestion for you to wage war against others, but remember this when surrendering your own information on the WWW

2.      What happens in Vegas, stays on the internet – a recent tragic case of an alleged video of a school teacher in a compromised situation doing the rounds was almost impossible to get taken down, as there are so many platforms and countries that do not care about data privacy or a person’s dignity

3.      Your employees are your greatest investment – you would likely take a trusted and mechanically-inclined friend along when buying a second-hand car (to balance the sales-pitch with reality); so why would you not try to form an independent opinion from the person (candidate) selling you their CVs

4.      Your employees are an extension of your brand and values – if there is something truly scary lying in wait on one of their social media profiles, would you rather know about it now or when your enemies put it in the spotlight on mainstream media?

Thanks for joining, watch out for the next article in this series…happy hiring!

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