Do you check social media before offering a job?

16 May 2017

Their CV, cover letter and interview skills passed your recruitment tests with flying colours. For most employers, this is enough hurdles for a potential employee to jump over before being offered the job. For many though, there’s one last steeplechase-sized hurdle to go – the social media background check.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most employers check candidates’ LinkedIn (46%) profile the most, with Facebook (46%), Twitter (28%) and Instagram (15%) cleaning up the next top spots. Surprisingly, 3 in 10 employers said they don’t search candidates’ social media profiles at all.

But what are the odds you’d actually turn a candidate down because of their social media updates?

Well, the research carried out by YouGov* uncovered that one in five employers have turned a candidate down because of something they’ve seen on their social media profile.

According to the study, the most common social media turn-offs for employers are:

  1. Aggressive or offensive language
  2. References to drug use
  3. Poor spelling and grammar
  4. Drunken photos
  5. Political views or activity
  6. Oversharing content
  7. Vanity

Can you turn a candidate down because of their social media activity?

If you’re considering snooping at a candidate’s social media profile, take care.

Protected characteristics are protected by law. If you refuse to recruit or interview a candidate based on a social media update that could be linked to a protected characteristic, this could be deemed as discriminatory and you could open yourself up to an employment tribunal hearing.

Protected characteristics include:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.

Before searching for a candidate on social media, ask yourself a couple of questions.

  1. Will their social media activity impact the job they’ve applied for?

For example, it’d be unnecessary to eliminate someone from the recruitment process for poor spelling and grammar in their social media posts, if the role they’re applying for doesn’t involve any written communication.

  1. Is it fair?

Some candidates might not be on social media, or their profiles might be locked down, limiting what you can see. If this is the case, it’d be unfair to assess each differently.

Know what’s right and wrong

Essentially, it’s all about using your common sense and gauging what’s right and wrong. If you’re checking out a candidate’s LinkedIn profile to fact check what they’ve said in their application, chances are you’ll be fine. If you’re scrutinising their Facebook photos to see if there’s any sign of a baby bump, on the other hand, you’re stepping into dangerous territory.

*Research conducted by YouGov Between 6th to 16th March, 2017.

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