There can be little doubt that social media is a potential gold mine of information for vetting job applicants. Facebook has over 1.47 billion daily active users with 4.75 billion items shared each day. There are 6,000 tweets sent every second and even the less prolific LinkedIn signs up over 120 new professionals per minute.

But before browsing through a candidate’s snaps from their last night out at Follies it’s important to take a minute to consider what information you need, how it links to the role you’re considering and how useful it will ultimately be.

Anecdotally, employers take one of three approaches to the use of social media content in the recruitment process with the majority limiting this to sourcing candidates only. Some firms use social media throughout the entire process from sourcing to vetting and verification whilst at the other end of the spectrum some stay well clear hoping to avoid what they see as a potential minefield or having taken the view that the information is interesting but of little real value.

Sourcing candidates through social media sites such as LinkedIn makes good business sense as it allows you to find good quality candidates without having to pay a recruitment agency fee but generally speaking, with the advent of GDPR, employers should only use social medial profiles to screen applicants where there is a legal ground to do so (such as a legitimate interest), the profile is business-related and the information collected is necessary and relevant to assess the candidate’s ability to do the job.

Given all the above, a case can usually be made to rummage through a candidate’s Linkedin profile but it will be far more difficult to justify screening a candidate’s Facebook or Instagram profiles. Even if a case could be made and an enthusiastic applicant volunteered full access to their digital presence, the more fundamental question remains as to how useful this data is, particularly when weighed against the potential risks.

Social media profiles, by their nature, give employers access to information that would not be included (often intentionally) in a traditional recruitment process. Details such as the applicant’s marital status, that they are a working mother or have a disability once in the knowledge of an employer are all ammunition for an unsuccessful candidate to complain of unlawful discrimination or (until disability discrimination legislation is introduced) questionable business practices. Even more fundamentally though there is the issue that delving into someone’s personal life leaves us far more exposed to making some bad recruitment decisions because of our own biases. Sometimes that may be a fairly innocent bias such as which football team we may support, or it may be more insidious in relation to sexuality, race or religion, information which could often quickly be established from posts made by a candidate on Facebook or Instagram. In all cases none of these factors have the slightest impact on an employee’s ability to do their job, but the fundamental problem is that once the information has been seen by a manager it cannot be unseen.

Ultimately, despite the wealth of information available only a small amount will be directly relevant and there are robust mechanisms in place to protect applicants. Younger applicants have grown up with a completely different notion of privacy and, almost inevitably, evidence of some of their indiscretions will persist online. Does this mean they can’t perform their jobs Monday to Friday? Probably not. If you were judged on your private youthful (or not so youthful) indiscretions, would you be where you are now?

Type

Insight

Locations

Guernsey, Jersey

Share
Twitter LinkedIn Email Save as PDF
More Publications
30 Jul 2021 |

Fighting international fraud

First published in New Law Journal, July 2021. Appleby partners Anthony William and Jared Dann an...

Contributors: Jared Dann, Claire Corkish
12 Mar 2021 |

Material adverse change clauses in light of the Covid-19 pandemic

Experts from each of our key global offices provide jurisdiction specific advice and answer question...

8 Mar 2021 |

Appleby Celebrates International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually in support of gender equality and equal participa...

23 Feb 2021 |

Fit and Proper in the Channel Islands – A Regulatory Enforcement Update

It is sometimes easy to forget with all that has happened over the last 12 months that there was a w...

1 Dec 2020 |

Reflections from the Virtual Fund Finance Symposium

The Fund Finance Association’s Virtual Symposium took place from 16th to 20th November. Attendees ...

27 Nov 2020 |

NAV Facilities: A Promising Vaccine for Funds in the Era of Covid-19?

The spotlight has been on NAV facilities and other bespoke financings as an area poised for growth, ...

30 Oct 2020 |

When Worlds Collide – How COVID is Connecting Technology with Natural Resources

Dating back to the beginning of 2020, the natural resources sector has been extremely active at both...

Contributors: Peter Colegate