In an era of diminished expectations for hiring and ongoing efforts to establish the “new normal” in human resources, one Santa Barbara company may have the right product at the right time. Social Intelligence Corporation, founded in April by entrepreneur and software designer Max Drucker, offers employers a way to evaluate job applicants based on their social media use that’s fair, consistent, and legally defensible.
In an era when virtually everyone has a Facebook profile, and pictures taken at parties have a way of finding new and unintended audiences well after they have been forgotten by the people in them, Social Intelligence promises to render the shifting social media landscape into a level playing field. Although Social Intelligence has been portrayed by some in the business press as a kind of “Big Brother” service intent on digging up every last bit of social media dirt, Drucker maintains that, in fact, his company is in the business of making it possible to still put one’s best foot forward online without taking all the fun out of Facebook.
A suite atop the Balboa Building has been Drucker’s base of operations since August 2006, when he sold the insurance software company Steel Card to ChoicePoint (NYSE:CPS), a division of Lexis-Nexis, in a substantial all-cash transaction. Since then the Montecito resident has focused on defining the next niche to fill with his software expertise and full-court team-building management approach.
Social Intelligence was incorporated in April 2010, and since then, Drucker, along with COO and Vice President Geoff Andrews, and Director of Technology Mike Nichols have been working hard to market and ship their product on time. Social Intelligence is a browser-based service available strictly to employers, and it is being marketed to large, Fortune-500 companies with significant human resources volume. The service divides into two products, one for evaluating applicants pre-employment, and the other for the ongoing monitoring of existing employees.
Drucker describes the value of Social Intelligence by saying that “the genie is out of the bottle as far as social networking goes, and it’s never going back in. If you Google someone you can find out lots of information about them that’s federally protected in relation to claims of discrimination—marital status, religion, medical history, etc. What we guarantee is that the employer will only be exposed to those things that come up in a search that are appropriate for them to consider, and that we will screen them from the types of information about a potential hire that could put them in line for a discrimination suit.”
Job seekers can also see the software as assisting rather than hindering them, says Drucker. “For the prospective employee, we are making sure that the information that we provide is reliable, and we are protecting their privacy from being invaded by an unsophisticated, unfiltered search that might be conducted by their potential employer. Our goal is to protect people’s right to a fair and consistent hiring practice now that we have this information out there, so we promise to provide an employer only with what’s relevant.”
Drucker, who is himself an active user of Facebook and a proponent of the positive impact of social media, insists that his new company is not about clamping down on what people put online. “We want to allow people to continue to maintain their online persona,” he says, adding that “your Facebook profile is the new resume, and the good things on it should be there for everyone to see. Going forward in this century, every major company is going to need a social media strategy for HR. Counselors are caught between two responsibilities—one to the potential employee who deserves to be treated according to federal anti-discrimination laws, and the other to their existing employees, who have a right to be protected against the problems created by new employees who were not properly screened. This is what we can help your company do.”