We often think of due diligence as the reasonable yet thorough investigation into an individual’s background and experience that an organization will take on prior to entering into a professional relationship. You do your due diligence to vet candidates, and prospective employees do the same for your organization as well. In other words, ask good questions.
What information do you need, and when do you need it? Many employers seek recommendations to add to the portfolio that a prospective employee offers. Remember that previous employers are only required to verify employment. Job seekers will offer recommendations from those who they have chosen to share the best perspective on their work, and who they have asked to serve as recommenders. Speak with these individuals; it is from these references that you should draw your impressions, and ask questions that help you to assess their qualifications.
Don’t use your network to gather extra information that may get the “back story” on a candidate, or that may expose someone’s private job search to their employer. Even more so, leveraging your connections opens up a wide variety of implicit biases that you can otherwise avoid. As you tap into your network, you shift a candidate from outsider to a member of your circle, inside your orbit. This happens by seeking out connections or gathering impressions from those other than references chosen by your candidate. Searching the social media life of your candidate permits you an uncurated look into their lives which they did not sanction, and will inappropriately and unnecessarily shift your perspective.