Snooping around a job applicant’s social media profiles
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It might seem like second nature to check a job applicant’s Facebook – but where do you stand legally? In today’s technological age, it’s increasingly rare to come across someone without an online presence. It’s not surprising then, that many employers are tempted to trawl through job applicants’ social media proﬁles to see whether there are any potential skeletons in the closet. Although, while it might seem a good recruitment tool, pre-employment vetting needs to be used with caution.
So how should employers approach the question of online digging in their recruitment process?
If employers base their decision on information that has been discovered on social media (eg specifics about an injury, illness, culture, race, sexual orientation) it could result in a discrimination claim. How would the candidate find out? If the documentation obtained and generated during the recruitment process doesn’t tally with the decision made, then this can lead to the candidate asking awkward questions, and potentially a claim. Further, recording or using information about candidates from websites will fall under the data protection legislation, and it’s crucial to ensure that you don’t fall foul of its requirements.
It’s worthwhile having a clear policy ensuring consistency and fairness. Pre-employment vetting shouldn’t be used as a means of intelligence-gathering. Only as a means of obtaining speciﬁc information relevant to the particular role and only where there is no other less intrusive way of accessing that information. More often than not, there will be an alternative – and less risky – way. If you’re going to do it, do it right.
If you check on applicant’s, check them all and be open about the fact that you do it and disclose the reasons why. If you’d like to discuss this in further detail, please get in contact at [email protected]