Written by Sophie Down | December 19, 2014
Any suggestion of checking out a candidate’s social media profile in considering their suitability for a vacancy will doubtless always cause some degree of controversy.
On one hand, it’s easier than ever these days to find out about a candidate, just by bashing their name into Google. But is it really ethical to pour over people’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, in what some consider to be a great invasion of privacy?
Social media has doubtless helped to make background checks as part of companies’ staff recruitment in Manchester more in-depth than ever, but it helps to take the right approach.
Why you may… or may not vet this way
Let’s imagine that you do make social media vetting a key part of your organisation’s staff recruitment drive. After all, according to a CIPD survey, 2 in 5 employers either already screen candidates via social media, or plan to do so.
Doing this could certainly give you a better insight into the candidate. From their likes and dislikes to their personality, religious and political beliefs and marital status, there’s so much that people reveal about themselves on social media.
Such information could therefore help you to determine how well the person would fit in at your company. But if you go too far, you could find yourself – wittingly or unwittingly – discriminating on the basis of factors that have nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to do the job, potentially landing you in sticky legal bother.
Distinguishing the appropriate from the inappropriate
That leaves you with the tricky task of deciding on what does and doesn’t matter. Some things are more obvious than others.
Of course you shouldn’t discriminate against someone who supports Manchester United when you’re a Manchester City fan, but what if you see a lot of snaps of the person in the bar? Does this point to an inclination to go on a massive bender the night before a vital presentation?
That’s unlikely, but as ever with these things, it’s all about the context. There’s a huge difference, for instance, between a personal social media platform like Facebook and a more professionally-oriented one like LinkedIn. If there are photos of them doing shots on the latter site, you’ll have more reason to worry.
Different platforms bring different ground rules
Similarly, there’s a lot to separate a more closed page – like a personal Facebook profile – from a very public one like a non-protected Twitter page. On the latter, one would expect a greater level of decorum, which it would be fairer game for prospective employers to judge.
If you’re looking for a social media manager, it’s probably reasonable to check any of their pages. Otherwise, we’d suggest keeping to public accounts on the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter if you are to swerve clear of problems with this aspect of your staff recruitment in Manchester.