Magazine

Survey Says | Published in October 2010

Have You "Googled" a Co-Worker?

By Nevin E. Adams | October 2010

As social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace continue to expand—even as the Internet serves to bring all that heretofore personal information into public view—I recently asked NewsDash readers if they had ever “Googled” an interview candidate or co-worker, and what they had discovered as a result.

Well, most of the respondents had not done so (56.4%). On the other hand, that means that quite a few had. Specifically, 37.6% said they had, and another 6% said “I’ll never tell,” which seems fair to include as a “yes.”

Of course, one can’t help but wonder what, if anything, those who had done so found out. Fortunately for the voyeurs among us, I asked; here’s a sampling.

There were, of course, some “real life” examples: 

Not sure if it was helpful, but did not find out anything I wish I hadn’t. 

One that found me on Facebook that has some serious drama playing out in their life all over Facebook….Way too much information and, seriously, if I was their employer, there is no way I would have hired this person. 

Actually, yes, I did find out something I wish I hadn’t, and am sadder for that knowledge. 

Also some cautionary notes: 

Unless you’re invited, how are you going to defend that in a wrongful discharge or not-hired discrimination claim with “I saw it on the Net”? Nevertheless, it’s tempting. 

Yes, I did find something I probably didn’t need to know. 

Not really helpful. Fortunately, I have not found out anything scary, but I suspect that will change with the “younger generation,” which has been on social media for a longer period of time, including their high school years when they lack a filter. 

I haven’t Googled anyone, but I have had others come share with me what they learned from Googling someone. 

Most who had done so found it of some benefit: 

Very helpful in determining a candidate’s qualifications, interests, etc. 

With the advent of Facebook and people still not aware of how to block their wall from outsiders, I have found fascinating information; the more we know ahead of time, the better to be prepared for the newbies coming in. 

It is always helpful knowing the type of person with whom you’re dealing. Sometimes the work persona is quite different from the real-life persona. 

Set the stage for discussion and helped me prepare questions, especially icebreakers. 

I thought it was very helpful. I also Google people I’m going to meet for the first time in a meeting, etc. I find it very helpful to have a feel for the person. I know that I have been very unimpressed by sales people that come to see me and know nothing about the company or me. 

If not helpful, then at least interesting for conversation starters. 

These, however, were my favorites: 

No surprises; weasels in the workplace, weasels socially. 

Never Googled a co-worker, specifically because I don’t want to know! 

It was interesting. I don’t think that everything you find on the Internet is necessarily true, however. 

That they “worked” someplace else simultaneously???? Listed on another firm’s Web site??? 

Honestly hadn’t, and now I’m going to Google some that I wish I had and see if it would have made a difference! 

However, the Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “Seems like the last time I had an interview candidate, ‘Googled’ was not a word.” Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!