With Twitter turning the grand old age of 8 back in March and
both Facebook and LinkedIn being in our lives for over 10 years now it is hard to remember a life before tweets and profile pages. Figures show that around one quarter of the world’s population actively uses social media, and this has revolutionised aspects of the modern recruitment industry, with jobs being posted on Twitter, candidates being headhunted on LinkedIn and company blogs providing expert advice on the job search and recruitment process.
An increasing number of hirers are also turning to social media to aid them, not only in looking for candidates, but also in screening those people who apply. Websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook are favourites when researching a potential employee’s online persona in order to gauge aspects such as fit into the company culture and professionalism, as well as basic facts such as the authenticity of qualifications and experience.
It is important to be prepared for the consequences; whatever you see cannot be unseen. Figures show that around 43% of hirers who researched a candidate online consequently found a reason not to hire them, with evidence such as inappropriate content, bad mouthing of previous employers and lying about qualifications being discovered. In contrast to this, only 19% of those asked found evidence which helped them in their decision to hire the candidate in question, citing reasons such as being impressed by their professional image, a good personality and a wide range of interests.
Jobseekers are gradually becoming more aware of this growing trend and therefore polishing up their social media image. A new ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, nicknamed as the ‘right to be forgotten’ case has enabled individuals the right to request that Google removes links to web pages about themselves. Although this could affect the amount of information freely found on the internet, at the moment it does only affect Google, which means that these web pages would still appear using other search engines.
Common sense is an important factor in this; knowing when it would be helpful to research a candidate, being able to recognise what would affect the applicant’s work and differentiating offensive/inappropriate content from free speech. Many larger companies are now realising the importance of introducing guidelines on this aspect and the CIPD have released a guide on pre-employment checks, which includes information on using social media in the hiring process.