The use of social media in recruitment is an ever-growing phenomenon. As a result, employers are increasingly turning to social media sites to get an idea of who they are considering hiring. This has led many to ask: can employers look up candidates on social media?
At first glance, the answer may seem to be an unequivocal ‘yes’. After all, the information on a person’s social accounts is public and employers can access it with a few clicks of the mouse. However, things are not that simple. Looking up candidates on social media is a complex issue and there are a number of factors that employers need to consider before they take this step.
What Employers Should Know About Looking Up Candidates on Social Media
It is important for employers to understand the implications of looking up candidates on social media before they do so. Here are some of the key things they should know:
1. It Can Violate Privacy Laws
One of the most important things that employers should be aware of is that looking up candidates on social media can violate privacy laws. Depending on the country or state the employer is based in, there may be specific laws on the issue of looking up candidates on social media. It is important to ensure that any such activity is conducted in a legal and compliant manner.
2. It Can Be Discriminatory
Another important thing to consider is that looking up candidates on social media can be discriminatory. Depending on the information they find, employers may make judgments about a candidate’s race, religion, gender, age, or other protected characteristics. This can be a violation of anti-discrimination laws and can lead to legal action against the employer.
3. It Can Lead to Unfair Assumptions
It is also important to be aware that looking up candidates on social media can lead to unfair assumptions about a person’s character or abilities. For example, employers may make assumptions about a person’s work ethic or personality based on their social media posts, even though this may not be an accurate representation of the person.
4. It Can Be Time Consuming
Another factor to consider is that looking up candidates on social media can be time consuming. It can also be difficult to accurately assess the information found on social media, as there is no guarantee that it is truthful or up to date.
What Employers Can Do to Legally Look Up Candidates on Social Media
If employers wish to legally look up candidates on social media, there are a number of steps they can take to ensure that they do so in a compliant and respectful manner. Here are some of the key things employers should keep in mind:
1. Obtain Written Consent
The first step employers should take is to obtain written consent from the candidate. This should be done before any social media searches are conducted, as it is essential that the candidate is aware that their social media activity may be reviewed.
2. Have a Clear Policy in Place
It is also important to have a clear policy in place that outlines the processes and procedures for looking up candidates on social media. This should include the reasons why the employer is conducting the search, as well as the information they are looking for.
3. Respect the Candidate’s Privacy
When looking up candidates on social media, employers should always respect the candidate’s privacy. They should not share any private or personal information they discover, nor should they make any assumptions or judgments based on the information found.
4. Use Professional Search Tools
Finally, employers should use professional search tools when looking up candidates on social media. These tools allow employers to conduct searches in a more organised and efficient manner, ensuring that the process is conducted in a compliant and respectful manner.
In conclusion, looking up candidates on social media can be a useful tool for employers when making hiring decisions. However, it is important for employers to understand the legal implications of such activity and to take steps to ensure that they do so in a compliant and respectful manner. Obtaining written consent, having a clear policy in place, respecting the candidate’s privacy, and using professional search tools are all important steps employers should take when looking up candidates on social media.
By following these steps, employers can ensure that they are conducting their searches in a legal and compliant manner, while still getting the information they need to make informed hiring decisions.