Let’s face it – most of us use social media these days and put all sorts of comments and pictures on our Facebook pages without a second thought! What we generally post on these sites, however, does not reflect how we would behave at work or how we would want to be perceived by a prospective employer.
With such a rich source of candid information available, it is unsurprising that employers are now tapping into this social media to help with their recruitment decisions – what could be the harm in that? Well, actually, you might be taking risks you were unaware of.
Snooping on social media sites to get an insight to an individual is potentially fraught with legal issues for would be recruiters and we would urge you to think again. If your recruitment processes are already robust enough you should not need to go to these lengths to aid your decision making.
What are the risks? Checking on prospective employees’ social networking sites opens you up to expensive claims of unlawful discrimination. The reason is that by accessing this social information you are likely to obtain sensitive personal information along with the recruitment-relevant information you may have been looking for. For example, as well as finding out that your potential new recruit has a history of bunking off work to go shopping, you are also going to be exposed to information such as their sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion and political or other beliefs, age, family status etc. If it comes to light that you accessed this information during the recruitment process, a rejected candidate would be able to claim that you took unlawful factors into account when making your decision and as a result, they have been discriminated against unlawfully.
Whilst it may be a tempting option to use social media to find out more, the danger is finding out more than you bargained for and what you do with that information. If we allow social media sites to influence our recruitment decisions we may well find that it is impossible to fill our vacancies….just because a candidate goes out most nights of the week does not necessarily mean that they will be late for work, or that their performance will suffer. Some people really do have the energy for both (just not us!).
If stringent checks are required due to the sensitive nature of the position then there are appropriate ways of going about obtaining that information. Sorry to spoil the snooping but social media is not it and in our view would be over stepping the mark.