Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) has produced a guide to
what constitutes good practice for
employers conducting pre-employment checks on job applicants.
goes beyond simple online research into a candidate's background, it does look
into how far employers should actually go in using social media checks in
support of the recruitment process. It is a growing issue: recent research
conducted by the CIPD showed that two out of five employers look at job
applicants' online activity or profiles on sites such as Twitter, Facebook or
LinkedIn at the recruitment stage.
In a recent
by Acas, 45% of those involved in hiring staff said they were already using
social media tools in recruitment, including screening candidates by viewing
their profiles, and around 40% said they would make greater use of them in the
candidate's online activity is not unlawful, but employers need to be careful
they are not basing recruitment decisions on discriminatory factors – for
example, age, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation and political beliefs.
The law on discrimination applies equally to online as well as offline vetting.
guide addresses this and other issues that recruiters need to consider. It says
they should consider applying a set of principles if they wish to access a
candidate's social media profile. These include:
distinguishing between private and professional social media – so LinkedIn is
legitimate, but a private Facebook is not.
discriminating online in the same way they wouldn't offline.
candidates' profile should not be used for a "trawling exercise", as
opposed to a search for specific information directly relevant to the job.
candidate should be informed at the outset if online sources may be used to collect
information about them.
opportunity should be provided to the applicant to respond to material findings
if their online profile has formed part of the decision process.
should develop a clear policy towards the use of social media in recruitment.
It will, of
course, be difficult to prove discrimination by a recruiter making remote and
subjective decisions based on your profile. But it would be a start to at least
know they are looking at your photos or comments on your online profiles.
You have right
to protect the processing of your personal information under the Data
Protection Act, but it is unlikely an employer viewing a personal social media
site without printing it off or forwarding it to anyone would be caught by it.
You may also find it difficult to justify privacy where you upload material to
the "non-private" sections of Twitter or Facebook.
The right of
privacy as it applies to social media is a developing area of law. The guide
from the CIPD aims to address some of the issues, but it remains just that – a
guide. Whether specific regulations are introduced is yet to be seen. In the
meantime, you may wish to review your public social media profile.
Do you agree
that employers should use your social media profile as part of their screening
process? Would you take steps to modify your profile knowing it may form part
of a search?
Source: The Guardian. Published: 11th December 2013.