Thursday, September 7, 2017

Baring it all on social media and hiring

I’ve never written about the time I stripped naked in front of my entire law school … until now.

Well, here we go.

It was 1997 and I was a 3L at Case Western Reserve School of Law, biding my time until graduation and the bar exam.

Looking for ways to spice up my final year of schooling, I volunteered to co-auctioneer the school’s annual fundraiser for its public interest law foundation.

The event started at 6 pm. We tapped the keg around 4.

Needless to say, I was several sheets to the wind before I gaveled my first item.

Based on the relative popularity of certain faculty members, I thought I knew which donated items would raise the most money.

One particular item that was expected to raise big dollars was being slow-bid. In my infinite wisdom (or drunken haze, my memory can’t quite decipher which), I decided that my fellow law students needed an enticement to quicken the bidding pace.

“When this item hits $500, I’ll pull my pants down,” I exclaimed!

The plan was to drop my blue jeans, but leave the naughtiest bits safely behind the cover of my Gap boxers.

Ah, the best laid plans. I had not accounted for the impact alcohol would have on my intended-to-be dexterous waste-band swipe.

In my stuporous haste, I not only grabbed the waste of my jeans, but also that of the Gap boxers on whose hopes I had staked my modesty.


So there I was, Jon and his “friends”, for all to see (at least for the quick moment before I hoisted my britches).

Here’s the employment lesson. (I can’t tell this story without bringing it 360 to an employment lesson.)

I can guarantee that every candidate you consider for employment has at least one moment like this in their background. And, because of the prevalence of the iPhone (generically standing in for all smartphones) and the Facebook (generically standing in for all social media), many of those candidates will not be able to hide from these embarrassments.

Your job as an employer is to determine which embarrassments are blips in the history of your future employee and which are red flags that scream “Do Not Hire.”

Thank god in 1997 there was no thing as iPhone or Facebook. But, even if there was, my Full-Monty moment would have in no way predicted my success as a lawyer. I haven’t had my clothes off in public since.

So, use the Internet to hire, but do not automatically assume that what you see is the be-all and end-all of every candidate. It is but one piece of the hiring puzzle, and, sometimes, it is in no way dispositive of the polished product you will hire.