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.)
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