Should Employers Look at Social Media When Hiring?


Social media has grown away from being a platform to greet and stay in touch with family and friends as it has become an avenue for business to be conducted as part of the digital media sphere. However, staying connected to family and friends, sharing jokes, opinions, and interests, may influence your chances of landing your dream job as employers have been reported to have conducted proper searches into their respective applicants using their social media pages. Social media is expected to give an unbridled and untainted idea of what the candidate’s views on certain issues are, therefore influencing the decision of the management board on whether or not to employ a candidate.Statistics shows that up to 70 percent of employers make use of social media to screen their candidates and as a selection criterion for employing applicants. However, it remains to be known if this selection criterion is in line with the labor and employment laws of the UK.Potential employees however ask if reviewing their online profile and activities by potential employers is right, but the truth remains that if such information is used under protected grounds such as color, gender, race or religion, to arrive at a decision on whether or not to hire an applicant’s services, then it becomes illegal, otherwise, there is no law, including the employment law, that states against it.Companies however also have a few questions regarding the use of social media as a hiring criterion, here are a few questions answered.Can you legally look at a Candidate’s Social Media?There is no direct law stipulating against a background social media check on a candidate as long as the hiring manager reviews public posts and information regarding the candidate and not more.There are however plenty of laws that kick against discrimination either during hiring or in the workplace. These laws are postulated to prevent employers from dismissing qualified candidates over prohibited grounds, such as color, race, sex, religion, or national origin.Employers to this end are allowed to go through a candidate’s Facebook and Instagram page as a means of collecting information which will overall influence their decision on whether or not to hire the candidate for the job.image1 1How Do Biases Affect Your Hiring Decision?When a company or human resource person is bias, it means such a person has prejudices which cause them to favor or otherwise disfavor a certain type of person or group.Such favor or disfavor is done in an unfair way therefore amounting to an illegal action. For instance, favoring a person for the job based on information such as same religious belief, same color or race.Additionally, favoring a candidate based on personal belief that some persons of a particular decent, color, or race are better or otherwise at some activities could also be illegal. This decision could be contended even when the employer pleads no obvious consciousness making the decision.How to Hire ObjectivelyScreening a potential employee’s social media account may prove to be easy, free, and tempting, however, it could form a basic factor in the decision which is to be made. In order to avoid the potential pitfall of making a wrong decision based on bias or prejudice, it is important to set certain tasks to get as much information as possibly available legally about the candidate.Employers while scouting and browsing social media pages of their potential candidates should acknowledge all the requirements of the position for which the candidate is being reviewed and evaluated for. It is important to start by screening applicants based on their qualifications and ability to fulfill the requirements of the office to be employed for. In cases where there are multiple candidates with similar and comparable skills, it may be the best choice to subject each candidate to a competency assessment which will help you in making the best decision.