Using Google AND Your Gut

When I Was Young and Irresponsible

Ferris Bueller's Day off“When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.”
— George W. Bush

I love that quote. It’s one of my favorite “Bush-isms.” And I was reminded of it last week when I found myself in a bit of a pickle after interviewing a young sales candidate. Here’s what happened:

I got a call from a young man who found my profile on LinkedIn. He sent me his resume and I did a phone interview with him.

Truthfully, it went okay — not great, but okay. Since graduating in 2010 he’s had two jobs. When I hung up the phone, I was very ambivalent about this candidate.

Google to the Rescue

In what I thought was a flash of brilliance, I Googled his name. When the results appeared I found the reason for my ambivalence at the bottom of the first page: His hometown police blotter had an entry of his arrest 2½ years ago. Although the entry was in police “lingo,” it seems he had hosted a wild party while his folks were away for the weekend — so wild, in fact, that he and a few of his buddies were arrested. “Okay,” I thought, “anyone can pull a Ferris Bueller. It shouldn’t mean the end of your career.”

Then I clicked into his Facebook page, the next result listed on the Google search. There wasn’t too much there, but I found what I was looking for in the “Interests” section of his profile. There he listed two interests: “Partying” and “Having a good time.” Uh, oh… this was a clear “double whammy.”

Frankly, the arrest didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. (I know some hiring managers who would consider being arrested at your own party a “rite of passage” for a college student!) The Facebook Interests, on the other hand, were the red flag. At that point, there was no way I would advance him as a candidate to any of our clients.

Trust Your Gut

This may seem extreme to some, but here’s my thought process…

This is a young guy who is looking for a job in a highly competitive market. I believe he displayed a stunning lack of judgment by NOT taking those postings off his Facebook page. Doesn’t he know that the whole world can view what he’s up to on Facebook? Doesn’t he know that potential employers might take a peek too?

And while I can understand, within limits, partying, drinking and even the occasional, unfortunate arrest with young candidates, shining a light on these shenanigans by posting it on your Facebook page is an unforgiveable faux pas — one that I believe would manifest in whatever job he takes.

When a young person is just starting a career and doesn’t have a history of accomplishments to fall back on, what I look for are indications of maturity and good judgment (usually scholastic accomplishments, volunteer work, etc.). Employers need and want to work with those candidates (I call them great “raw material”) who give a very strong indication that they have and will use their good sense and judgment in their new job.

This young man fell far from the mark. In my book, it’s as simple as that!

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