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Checking candidate’s social media – are there risks?

You have applied for an exciting new job and are at final interview stage. However, you recently tweeted a controversial tweet – could this affect your chances of getting the position? A lot of employers would say yes because they are actively checking candidate social media sites – including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.

New Apps such as ‘Charlie’ and ‘Crystal knows’ (widely used in U.S.) are being utilised more by employers in UK. Charlie checks your calendar and then combs through hundreds of online courses before sending a one-page document giving the lowdown on all the people you are due to meet that day. Crystal Knows analyses public data – but these Apps are only the start of this ‘social media information industry’ – and we will see more Apps developing to give us even more information on individuals and organisations in the future.

The war for talent will drive this opportunity – as companies try to source, attract and analyse candidates as to their ‘fit’ into the company – cultural fit is becoming more and more important – particularily when employers need to look at more diverse applications.

David D’Souza, Head of London CIPD, states that there are obvious concerns around people using technology to aggregate information in a way that they would never have envisaged it being used. Obviously LinkedIn is a useful professional social media tool for employers, and is a very legitimate method to check individuals. However, Facebook is not a professional business site – it is a personal social media site that is not intended for use as a recruitment screening tool, and it’s use in that context is a worrying trend.

In terms of data protection, any information posted on social media is available to employers, so the advice to employers is to use social media knowledge in a professional and fair manner, whilst potential employees should always take the view that any social media inputs should be uploaded very carefully, with privacy settings being checked regularly, and any controversial photos or tweets being uploaded with the knowledge that they may be viewed in the future.

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