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The Use of Search Engines and Social Networking Sites to Screen Candidates

National webinar

March 12, 2009

URL: http://

Job applicants have long used the internet to research employers. But now, employers are using the internet to research job applicants as well. Employers aren't only using search engines to find information on applicants but are now examining social networking sites, such as Facebook or MySpace. For job applicants of course, social networking sites are places to interact with peers in any manner they choose. Entries on these sites are typically not meant for employers to view. Employers tell anecdotes of avoiding serious mistakes by using these tools. Conversely, some job applicants feel they have been denied opportunities unfairly by employers or recruiters snooping on social Web sites and viewing materials out of context or Web entries meant just in fun for friends.

This teleconference will review this emerging area of recurring and employment law, examining the pros and cons of employers utilizing such tools and the legal landscape. Topics will cover how and why employers utilize these sites. It will then cover a number of legal implications, such as problems with employers obtaining information they should not have and privacy issues. Finally, we will examine approaches that employers and applicants may consider.

Program Outline

  • Overview: Why the Sudden Interest by Recruiters and Employers in Using Social Networking Sites
    • Potential Online Tools for Employers - Search Engines, Social Network Sites, Blogs and Chat Rooms
    • What Employers May Find Online and How
  • The Legal Landscape
    • Back to Basics - A Five Part Test to Evaluate If a Pre-Employment Assessment Tool Is Going to Get an Employer in Hot Water
    • The Use of Private Behavior for Employment Decisions
    • The TMI Problem - Too Much Information?
    • Privacy in the Brave New Online World - Is Everything on the Web Fair Game?
    • What Is Real? Issues Concerning Identity and Authenticity
    • What Happened to Free Speech?
  • Where to Go From Here
    • Approaches for Employers
    • Approaches for Job Applicants
    • Approaches for Online Sites and College Placement Offices
    • Using the Web to Investigate Current Employees - A New Legal Minefield

About The Presenter

Lester S. Rosen is a nationally recognized expert on pre-employment screening, safe hiring practices, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Mr. Rosen is a former criminal defense trial attorney and former deputy District Attorney. He is the founder and president of Employment Screening Resources (ESR). ESR was recognized by Intellectual Capitol Group, the research arm of, as the top background-screening firm in the United States. Mr. Rosen has written numerous industry journal articles, was a contributing columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, and has testified as an expert in court trials pertaining to safe hiring and pre-employment background screening.

He is the author of the definitive book on pre-employment screening and legal compliance, “The Safe Hiring Manual-The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters Out of Your Workplace,” (512 pages/Facts on Demand Press). He is also the author of a 30-hour online professional development course on safe hiring. He was also the chairperson of the committee that founded the National Association of Professional Background Screeners ( and served as the first co-chair.

Mr. Rosen has practiced law for nearly twenty years and has taught criminal law and procedure at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. His jury trials have included murder, death penalty, and federal cases. Mr. Rosen graduated from UCLA with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1973, and received his J.D. degree form the University of California at Davis in 1976, where he served on the Law Review. He is a certified specialist in criminal law in California.

In addition to his leadership duties with ESR, Mr. Rosen is a sought after speaker at industry conferences and meetings, presenting topics such as The Strategic Role of Safe Hiring, Understanding the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Ten Steps to Safe Hiring. He consults and speaks with private corporate clients across the United States as well. Recently, Mr. Rosen testified before the California state legislature on pre-employment screening and employee investigation laws in California. According to The Public Record Update, the leading authority on public records searching in the U.S., the signing of two new bills amending California pre-employment screening legislation in 2002 occurred as a direct result of Mr. Rosen’s testimony.

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