Is social media in business just an ethical reinvention of the undercover private investigator?


People are every organisation’s best assets. Ask almost anyone in business and they will tell you that there are significant benefits to improving the end to end processes for hiring and developing brilliant talent for their organisation.

Imagine then, if a change agent and/ or maverick business leader came up with a brilliant idea to do just this which specified, inter-alia, that before anyone is even considered for an interview, they should be screened for attractiveness, youth, weight and presentability, financial stability, political and personal associations as well as their sports affiliations, their musical tastes, their choice of holiday destinations and what they do when they are on holiday. What do you think would be the engagement and adoption rate of this “brilliant idea”?

Yet hiring new talent these days mandates that future employers do some sort of private investigative work on prospective candidates first, and dig out all sorts of personal information which today’s laws would prevent anyone from daring to ask in an interview or recruitment setting. This PI work is enabled by social media and more importantly, facilitated by the candidates themselves, albeit inadvertently…. and could make the difference between being called for an interview and not. Forget the old adage that an interview is lost or won within 45 seconds of entering the interview room. The reality is that these days, the opportunity to interview is won or lost within a couple of seconds of a social media search.

This PI work is in essence the acceptable reinvention of the maverick leader’s pre screening idea at the start of this article which would have most certainly earned him outright hostility (and that’s putting it very mildly!).

As stated in a previous reinvention article, to get your idea adopted with as little resistance as possible, it is important to find a hook that will make the new idea more acceptable and comparable to the existing norms and practices and to emphasis the perceived relative advantage of the new idea to what is already in place. For example, with respect to the business challenge of improving the end to end processes for engaging the right personnel, the smart use of social media could transform business practices and would also reduce the need for the traditional and expensive probationary period and processes for new hires. For when you already know so much about a prospective candidate through Google+, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube et al, is there really that much surprise left that you cannot get to the bottom off by specifically cutting to the chase at interviews….. assuming of course they even get that far?

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