The power of the Internet

The internet is a thing of wonder.  It may not be a wonderful thing but it surely sits alongside the wheel and electricity as one of mankind’s greatest inventions.

Virtually all of our lives have been changed by the internet, and with more content available on a mobile basis, we are surely heading towards Arthur C Clarke or Philip K Dick territory, the stuff of science fiction not so long ago.  There is a growing group of people (known as “the young”) who have never experienced life before the internet, and whose entire knowledge is downloaded rather than looked up.

The UK’s oldest person died yesterday.  Born in 1899, she was the last person to have lived throughout the entire 20th century.  What change she had seen in her life; if she had the Tardis to return and tell her parents what life would be like 100 years from her birth, she would most likely be declared insane.

There are downsides to the internet of course.  Images that no-one should see, hateful messages that should have remained unspoken.  But it can also be a tool for good, providing support to campaigns that otherwise might go unnoticed.  One thing about the internet, though, is that information is rarely deleted; it is stored somewhere in the ethernet, just waiting to be accessed with the correct search terms.

There are many public figures who were once household names, but are no longer on our screens.  You might find yourself thinking ” I wonder what happened to so-and-so” and the first thing you do is Google their name.  Googling your own name is just weird.  However, Google and the internet is an invaluable tool for the recruitment industry.

With any business relationship, you have to have an element of trust, or else you are never going to get anywhere.  You have to trust your client that the information he or she has given you on their business is accurate.  Within reason, this can be verified – you can access published financial records online and press stories are also always held in digital form. With candidates, you are expected to take on trust that what a candidate puts in their CV is the truth, that they were employed by certain companies at certain times.  It would slow the recruitment process down enormously if you checked that a candidate had worked at all the companies they claimed, and if you were going back over a 30 year career, some of the information might be unverifiable.

Increasingly, major recruitment companies are using word search programmes or techniques to assess candidates’ suitability.  Most now don’t even interview candidates, even sending out pre-recorded interviews where you are given a set time period to reply to a posed question.  It’s no surprise when recruitment agencies get the reputation they deserve, even if there is the odd shining beacon upholding old-fashioned values.

The thing is, if you interview someone and something doesn’t ring true, you can go away and check up.  Pre-internet, this would have been a long laborious task that might not even have found you the truth if you weren’t asking the right questions or looking in the right place.  But now, if there is an unexplained gap on a CV, or the candidate claims that they were “off work following an operation”, the first thing you do is Google them.

You see, the press love to print stories about how individuals have defrauded companies, and how that fraud or theft has affected other innocent employees, who might have lost their jobs due to a lack of money in the company, or lost their house as their business collapsed.  The press are very precise in ensuring that the guilty party is named and shamed, with as much personal details printed as they can get away with.  And stories like that are never removed from the internet, they act as a warning for future employers.  It’s known as “being in the public interest”.

Beware of the recruitment consultant who goes the extra mile.

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