With the advent of new social media services and tools within Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, a savvy recruiter can learn a great deal about prospective candidates even before the first conversation or interview. Recent studies show that approximately 27 per cent of employers will check a candidate’s social media profiles.
What are the advantages of using social media to pre-screen job applicants?
Examining a prospective candidate’s social media profile may save time and money. It is an inexpensive way to gather information and to find out more about a candidate beyond their application and resumé.
Is screening by social media a breach of privacy when investigating candidates?
While applicants’ social media profiles are public, there is still a risk. The Equality Act (and similar in other countries) actually prevents employers from discriminating based on an applicant’s ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, or marital status.
Delving into a candidate’s social media profile may bring to light some of this information, making it easier for a candidate to make a claim of discrimination. A recent study found that 30% of those surveyed would be angry and would consider taking action if they discovered that they had been turned down for a job after having their social media accounts reviewed by a potential employer.
Are there other risks besides discrimination?
Not all applicants may have social media profiles. The Office for National Statistics found that in 2012, 16.1% of adults in the UK had never logged on to the internet. This may mean that excellent candidates are eliminated from consideration.
Though the temptation to look further into potential candidates’ backgrounds by using social media is strong, there are real issues of privacy and discrimination that must be considered. If recruiters do choose to look at an applicant’s Facebook or Twitter, they should be extremely careful of engaging in recruitment bias and discriminatory behaviour.