Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Online Reputation Can Cost Someone A Job

Maximum PC (April 2010, page 10), of all places, reported on a study by Microsoft which found that 70%-yes 70% of HR professionals turned down a job candidate based upon their online reputation. The article continues as follows:

The top three reasons cited for rejecting a candidate were concerns about lifestyle, inappropriate comments, and unsuitable photos and videos.

There is a potential law review article in this story with regard to the application of employment discrimination to such situations. Maximum PC reported on the same study in January and that report can be found here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Misc., Legal | Permalink


If you're dumb enough to do dumb things openly on them internets, then you probably lack the judgement required of a professional work environment.

I don't see why this would be much of a problem.

Posted by: Sean | Mar 15, 2010 7:09:28 AM

Please. As if 70% of HR people (usually a clerk, who may or may not be a "Professional" reviews online data prior to passing along their opinion/judgment. IMO, few HR departments even know how to run a meaningful background check.

Course, not that MS has any skin in the game.

Posted by: Ron Snyder | Mar 15, 2010 7:20:49 AM

Snyder snidely snickers: "Please. As if 70% of HR people (usually a clerk, who may or may not be a "Professional" reviews online data prior to passing along their opinion/judgment."

In a tough job market, getting screened out of the applicant pool early by a clerk (regardless if Snyder considers them a "Professional") or in the final selection process, the result is the same: you lost the job.

Posted by: Dudley Dooright | Mar 15, 2010 8:08:18 AM

I agree with Sean. There are too many overaged adolescents - men in particular - in the workplace as it is.

Posted by: Jim M | Mar 15, 2010 8:58:31 AM

Just as a comment: 70% of all HR professionals surveyed had turned down *someone* is not the same thing as all HR professionals had surveyed had turned down 70% of applicants based on their online reputation or 70% of all rejections were based on an online reputation. If an HR professional ever typed one guys name into facebook who had provided it to the firm and also posted about how they had evaded the law, then they counted.

Posted by: Nony Mouse | Mar 15, 2010 9:00:40 AM

Sean: The trouble is how you define dumb things. It's one thing to be rejected for a job requiring security clearance if you're a convicted felon. It's another to be turned away because of your sexuality, religion, taste in movies, or a photo of you wearing a lampshade at your sisters wedding reception. -- The trouble is that HR representatives who make these calls often operate very heavily from personal bias about things that have nothing to do with our professional ability or deportment.

Posted by: theo | Mar 15, 2010 9:02:39 AM

It's OK, they're stupid, but they have good self-esteem.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck | Mar 15, 2010 9:34:29 AM

Ron, most places I've worked for have a service that does the background checks; I have seen people canned a week after starting because the check revealed some blatant lies...

Posted by: Ben | Mar 15, 2010 10:03:49 AM

People sometimes complain that I don't use my real name and actual email. They say that my comments are "less serious" than if I were willing to stake my reputation on them. I figure that if I wanted to stake my reputation on something then it wouldn't be throwaway snark in the comments section on some weblog!

Posted by: Grainger | Mar 15, 2010 10:36:53 AM

Case in point: Kim du Toit.

Posted by: Dave P. | Mar 15, 2010 10:39:29 AM

"If you're dumb enough to do dumb things openly on them internets, then you probably lack the judgement required of a professional work environment"

The internet has been around long enough now that posts\profiles you may have made as a littl'un are still returned on searches for your full name if it's unique enough. I know that's the case for me, and even though nothing is bad it's a little embarrassing to see things you wrote as a 12 year old appearing on searches for your name when you're now 24 alongside professional stuff.

Posted by: Another Sean | Mar 15, 2010 10:51:11 AM

I didn't make my point very clear...

What I meant was that you could still be a model professional, even if you were a cheeky little tearaway (or just regular strength stupid\naive) more than a decade ago.

Posted by: Another Sean | Mar 15, 2010 10:55:59 AM

HR departments have two functions: administering benefits, and preventing people from getting jobs. This is just another way they prevent people from getting jobs.

Posted by: Anthony | Mar 15, 2010 12:30:14 PM

"Stupid is as stupid does" Would you hire some knucklehead stupid enough to post compromising photos on the net? This is not discrimination it's natual selection.

Posted by: Bill the Cat | Mar 15, 2010 12:54:37 PM

This is why all my internet activity is done anonymously (or pseudo-anonymously, as in this post, where I'm using my initials).

If you were to Google my name, you'd turn up nothing about me except for some projects that I worked on in college that my professor features on his website, and a listing of my name on a staff contact page for the website I manage.

Attaching your real name to any socially unapproved activity is short sighted, to say the least, particularly in this job market.

Posted by: RC | Mar 15, 2010 5:51:51 PM

This is very true. More and more companies are starting to research about possible employees through the web. That is why it is important for everybody not to damage their online reputation.

Posted by: | Sep 15, 2010 10:08:57 PM

It seems like checking up on employees or future hires on social media sites are becoming the norm now.

Posted by: Nevil | Oct 3, 2010 8:02:16 PM

Yea I have to agree with the natural selection comment. If you're that dumb than you shouldn't reap benefits

Posted by: MOB Design | Oct 12, 2010 7:58:06 PM

Probably you Boss is pretending a friend on your "Face book friend list" You say something wrong, you will have trouble. Now, watch out all you "Internet network".

Posted by: lawimage | Feb 13, 2011 8:03:09 PM

Reputation, in fact, plays a major role in just about everything we do. Sales professionals have to protect their reputation by avoiding unethical tactics and looking out for the customers' interests. Ultimately, the customers' interests are the salespersons' own, and so long as you understand this from the start, you are less likely to make decisions that adversely affect your reputation.

Posted by: freelance translation jobs | Oct 7, 2011 1:45:38 AM

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