That's the problem with a recent data sorting feature, say four LinkedIn users who have filed a lawsuit against the professional networking giant's 'Reference Search'. The feature, which is offered to premium members, allows users to search past colleagues of a member. The data is sorted according to which colleagues worked at the same company as the candidate within the same time frame.
The Hiring Manager can then InMail these colleagues to get a firsthand opinion about the job candidate without the candidate ever knowing the conversation has occurred.
The plaintiffs claim that the search unfairly takes the references process out of the job seeker's hands. Additionally, they claim it provides inaccurate assessment of a candidate because the former colleagues may not have known their co-worker well or worked with them directly.
LinkedIn claims the feature is to "provide reliable feedback about a job candidate." But those involved in the lawsuit are taking steps to prove that this type of pre-screening is not only potentially harmful to the applicant, but illegal. They say that legally, employers must inform the candidate that they are doing what is considered part of a background check.
In a recent response to the lawsuit, a spokesman for LinkedIn said the application merely sorts information that is already made public and therefore is not harmful to the job applicant.