Risk
1/27/2010
06:23 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Finds Indiscreet Sharing Costs Jobs

A survey commissioned by the company shows that the majority of human resources professionals have rejected job applicants based on information found online.

In anticipation of Data Privacy Day on Thursday, January 28, Microsoft has released research showing how indiscreet publication of information online can prevent Internet users from getting jobs.

According to a December survey of 2,500 consumers, human resources managers and recruitment professionals, 70% of the HR respondents from the U.S. said they had rejected job applicants because of information found through an online search. Among U.S. consumers, only 7% believe online data has affected their efforts to get hired.

"We're really quite surprised by the findings," said Peter Cullen, chief privacy strategist at Microsoft, in a phone interview. Cullen said while its not unexpected for human resources professionals to conduct online searches about job applicants, the extent to which online research has become commonplace and has been formalized in corporate policy should prompt people to revisit their assumptions about privacy and online reputation.

The survey was conducted in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and France. Outside the U.S., the impact of online information on hiring appears to be less significant. In the U.K., 41% of responding recruiters and HR professionals said they'd rejected candidates following the discovery of negative online information. In Germany and France, the rates were 16% and 14% respectively.

One reason for the disparity may be that 75% of recruiters and HR personnel in the U.S. report that their companies have formal policies requiring them to research job applicants online. In the U.K., only 48% of recruiting and HR respondents said their companies had policies of this sort. And in Germany and France, that number is 21%.

In a blog post, Cullen says that the survey shows how we as a society are still trying to reconcile privacy with life online. To illustrate that point, he notes that 63% of consumer respondents expressed concern about the impact of their online reputation on their lives. At the same time, less than half of consumers surveyed say they consider their reputations when they post online and less than 15% of consumers believe that online information affects their ability to get a job.

Online reputation matters less for companies like Microsoft, which appear to be willing to ignore inconsequential indiscretions to secure hard-to-find technical talent. Cullen said that Microsoft's hiring policy does not place much emphasis on online information. "We're a technology company, so we've found that skills and competency are much more important," he said.

If there's good news in the survey, it's that positive online information can have a positive effect on recruiters and HR managers. "Eight-six percent of HR professionals believe that online reputation has had a positive impact on an applicant," said Cullen. "Having a positive online reputation can be just as influential [as having a negative one]."

Cullen sees privacy making a comeback, as the impact of its absence becomes clear.

"The trend I've observed is that people are actually thinking more proactively about who they're friends with and the information they share," he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-1544
Published: 2014-07-23
Use-after-free vulnerability in the CERT_DestroyCertificate function in libnss3.so in Mozilla Network Security Services (NSS) 3.x, as used in Firefox before 31.0, Firefox ESR 24.x before 24.7, and Thunderbird before 24.7, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via vectors that trigger cer...

CVE-2014-1547
Published: 2014-07-23
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in the browser engine in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0, Firefox ESR 24.x before 24.7, and Thunderbird before 24.7 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-1548
Published: 2014-07-23
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in the browser engine in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-1549
Published: 2014-07-23
The mozilla::dom::AudioBufferSourceNodeEngine::CopyFromInputBuffer function in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 does not properly allocate Web Audio buffer memory, which allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (buffer overflow and applica...

CVE-2014-1550
Published: 2014-07-23
Use-after-free vulnerability in the MediaInputPort class in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (heap memory corruption) by leveraging incorrect Web Audio control-message ordering.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Sara Peters hosts a conversation on Botnets and those who fight them.