A lesson for Kent Police? – How do you SEO the Daily Mail off page one of Google?

130410 Paris Brown IndependentIf you meet a new person, at least if you work in my industry, surely the first thing you do is Google them.

Check out their profile, see what you can find to inform your first meeting. It’s great to get a head start in building a relationship if LinkedIn shows you they attended the same college as you or Google+ reveals you have a common love for cheese.

I’ve been following the impact of more formal social media background checks on recruitment for a while. In the US, surveys seem to suggest that the vast majority of businesses routinely check potential recruits’ social profiles as part of the selection process. This is public information after all.

There are benefits and risks attached to this for both parties of course.

Companies can find out information that will give a rounded view of the candidate, their experience and track record. But there is a real risk of violating a candidate’s privacy. The potential for unlawful discrimination is clear – decisions could be prejudiced consciously or unconsciously by finding information that would not normally be disclosed in the recruitment process.

Jobseekers have fabulous new opportunities to showcase their talents online that simply weren’t available, or so widely accessible, before: getting creative about researching and attracting the attention of potential employers; using Twitter to build connections and search for opportunities; optimising personal profiles for search in LinkedIn and Google+; and short-cutting the interview process with self-directed YouTube videos. for example.

Of course, on the flip-side, we must all be aware that we now live in a world where there is no delete. And so we must take responsibility for ourselves, and our online profiles. The former Youth Police and Crime Commissioner is our latest cautionary tale in this regard.

She is 17. Barely an adult. We should not be surprised if there is a little naivety about her.

But can we say the same about Kent Police? Reading The Independent’s view yesterday, which, as most pieces have, places Ms Brown’s fallibility front and centre, it is not until paragraph eleven that the Police Force’s culpability is discussed. PCC Barnes informed the paper that they had not even checked her social media background. “She was subject to national vetting procedures but these do not currently include social media.”

That makes me cross. This is not acceptable today.

Kent Police shot themselves in the foot discrediting what could have been a great initiative. They’ve done for Ms Brown’s online profile – try SEO-ing the Daily Mail off page one of Google – and they’ve hung her out to dry.

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