HotJobs' New Service: Fink On Yourself

Job seekers can pay to do a background search on themselves and make it available to potential employers.
That art of embellishing one's resumé to stand out in a crowded job-search market may just have gotten a lot tougher. Yahoo HotJobs has begun giving job candidates the ability to perform background checks on themselves and provide that information to prospective employers, essentially giving them a way to validate that they're who--and what--they say they are.

The service, called Top Candidate Background Check, charges job seekers $24.95 to share resumé-verification and criminal-record information with as many potential employers as possible in 90 days. David Brensilber, VP of business affairs for Yahoo HotJobs, says moving the background check from the end of the hiring process to the beginning should speed up recruitment efforts by weeding out less-ethical candidates earlier and ensuring that employers grant interviews to prospects they can trust.

A job seeker who uses the service gives potential employers URLs that they can use to verify his or her identity and perform a national criminal database check. Each employer will receive its own link so candidates can verify who has accessed the information, and job seekers can disable those links if they decide they're no longer interested in working for a certain company. Conversely, Yahoo HotJobs also introduced a background-check service for employers that sells them various types of background information for fees similar to the job-seeker service.

Patti Wilson, a Silicon Valley career counselor who runs a 2,000-person online job-discussion group, says the service for job seekers likely will benefit employers more than applicants by saving companies the $200 to $500 they normally spend on each background check. What's more, Wilson says that based on the feedback she gets from her discussion group, many job seekers have given up on online job boards. "HotJobs and Monster are kind of like insurance," she says. "Everybody really knows that the best way to find a job is through other means."

For instance, Wilson says employers have gotten more aggressive about scouring the Web for candidates by doing searches using terms like "MBA" and "product management," making tools such as individual resumé blogs more effective than job sites. But the most effective job-search method remains the tried and true: connecting with people who can put resumés in the right hands.