Setting aside the ethics issue for a while, does it really make good business sense for prospective and former employers to share information about candidates for employment with each other? The more important version of that question, perhaps, should be, “Why doesn’t it make sense?” Since we know that some people’s best skill is interviewing, and that others are willing to embellish their resumes and claim academic achievements never earned, how else is a prospective employer supposed to objectively evaluate a candidate for employment?
Believe it or not, I have encountered employers who still think they can judge a candidate’s prospects for job success solely on the basis of a face-to-face interview—and nothing more. Clearly, this attitude is a holdover from hiring practices that were in fashion at least 75 years ago—and still evident as recently as the 1990s.
For jobs that almost anyone can perform with only a few hours of training, nothing more than an honest face still gets some people hired, but this simplistic approach to hiring is rapidly disappearing from the employment process. Of course it makes sense for prospective and former employers to be able to share information; the only sensible limitation on this sort of sharing is that the information should always be true and accurate—and that’s where the job seeker comes into the picture.
Because we’ve become such a litigious society—negligent hiring, negligent referral, defamation of character, invasion of privacy—threats of all these civil actions have worked together to create something of a hostile environment for the employer.