Social media in recruitment the screening dilemma!

Research has shown that 41% of employers/recruiters look at candidates online profiles where as only 15% of candidates think social media is a factor in the recruitment process.

Social media considerations for recruiters

This gives a fascinating insight as to how the world of recruitment is changing. However companies need to be aware of the not only the impact of reviewing social media profiles as of their pre-employment screening process but also how they monitor and review social media interaction of employees in the workplace.

The potential legal concerns are:

  • Employee Monitoring
  • Discrimination
  • Defamation
  • Reputation
  • Conduct/dismissals
  • Intellectual property
  • Confidential information

There are numerous legal frameworks and legislation which organisations can breach when reviewing social media profiles of candidates and employees, such as Data Protection Act 1998, Human Rights Act 1998, Telecommunications Regulations 2000, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 200 and others, as well as the duty of trust and confidence between employer and employee.

Is it reasonable to carry out social media checks as part of the recruitment decision?

Many organisations now want/expect/need their employees to be public advocates of the company through their online profiles such as Facebook and Twitter. Therefore it is important that organisations have a Social Media Policy so that it is clear as to their expectations of employees.

The policy needs to clearly set out the rules for referencing the company and that no derogatory statements about the organisation can be made. In respect of who owns the intellectual property of the information on these social media sites is still be robustly tested at an employment tribunal but it would strengthen the position of organisations if they clearly state their ownership as part of the social media policy or social media guidelines.

Employers also need to ensure that all employers are made aware of the policy on social media and this can be done as part of induction and through periodic updates for all staff.

In respect of recruitment and pre-employment screening of candidates it is always best practice to allow any candidate the opportunity to explain or respond to any issues you have uncovered as part of your social media searches.

If in doubt when putting together your social media policy or guidelines refer to the ACAS: Social Networking Guide –, or contact one of team our experts.