Social media and pre-employment vetting

With the ever increasing popularity of social media sites, the volume of personal information online grows each day. As an employer looking to recruit new staff, the possibility of exploring a candidate’s background could be just a few clicks away. Temptation to trawl the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for insights into potential employees leads to the question; just because you can search, should you?

A recent CIPD study revealed that 2 out of 5 employers would look at an applicant’s online profiles as part of their recruitment process. As a result, they have released their good practice guidelines for employers conducting pre-employment checks.

A sensible approach to online vetting as an employer is to ask yourself what is necessary. It may not be illegal to access a Facebook profile, but what will this tell you about a person’s suitability for the role? Moreover, can you ensure/prove that looking at online activity does not influence you to take into account protected characteristics when making employment decisions?

A LinkedIn page could provide a greater insight into a potential employee; this is a business site, and was built to encourage workers to create professional profiles for themselves. It would be reasonable then to use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool. Information detailed here, whilst not written specifically for you, should have been written with current/future employers in mind and could tell you more about an applicant than may be on their CV. – referrals from former colleagues/clients/employers being particularly interesting.

It is advised that you inform a candidate in advance if you plan to look at their online activity and also that there is a company policy for using online vetting as part of the recruitment process. (If you have a policy, you should make sure this is being used throughout the company.)

We provide a range of services for smaller employers, from inexpensive on-line & email support services (click here for more information on the full service Premium Plus to premium plus support which comes with the uncapped advice and a personal HR advisor. With our systems partner CIPHR, we are happy to quote for full outsource services too to replace or supplement larger companies’ existing HR and employment legal capability.

We can also quote for one off fixed price HR support if you need to deal with a particular issue or you just want to review your employment contract. Call us on 01628 820515to discuss your requirements or email us.


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