My topic 3 post mentioned that employers are increasingly relying on reviewing job candidate’s social media presence as part of the application process. Career builder found that 40% of companies will browse an individual’s social media account before making a decision of hiring the job applicant. The Apprentice 2014 winner Ricky Martin (who now runs a recruitment company) explains in the video below how he has changed the decision to hire a candidate after reviewing their activity on social media.
By recognising that there is a growing importance of social media within the recruitment process, the question now arises as to whether there are ethical concerns surrounding this issue.
Is employee social media screening an invasion of privacy?
Whilst many suggest that the role social media can play in the job application process is too significant, are these people right in thinking that this is unethical and an invasion of privacy? Sprague stated that as a result of the current privacy laws within the UK, a job application that posts online should have no expectation of privacy and therefore no recourse (Sprague, 2008). For further information on the legal risks associated with employee social media screening in the USA, click here.
Looking at the issue from a business’s point of view, the potential candidate will be a representation of the company and therefore their future posts online are an extension of the firm’s values and ethos. In addition to this, with the option to take advantage of extensive privacy settings on social media and with the choice of sharing the content being down to the candidate, the idea that social media screening is unethical and an invasion of privacy could be difficult to reconcile (HR Zone).
However, is it fair that your employability may be affected by a post that was written a long time ago and is not an accurate representation of you?
Whilst at first it may seem unethical for a company to screen candidates through social media, if you are eventually employed, you are a representation of the company. As a result, your activity on social media could negatively affect the company further down the line and the firm could be seen to have a duty to negate this potential risk through screening. I therefore believe that company’s are acting in the interest of their clients and major stakeholders and the ethical issues surrounding the topic should be downplayed.
However, it is important to recognise that an over-reliance of social media background screening could result in employers forming opinions of candidates that may not be an entirely accurate representation of the individual which is something that firms should be aware of. An article completed by Randstad highlights the potential risks associated with an over-reliance of social media within recruitment.
Sprague, R. 2008. Rethinking information Policy in an age of online transparency. Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal, 25:395