With so many people publishing everything from their CV to their shoe size online, it’s tempting to use this information to check up on potential employees. But does a social media profile tell you anything useful about how an employee will behave? And where’s the line between ‘sensible research’ and ‘stalker’, exactly? Should you check out potential employees on social media?
Do fact-check key information
Basic information on a CV should be accurate and you can check some of it online. As an example, universities often list graduates by subject and year. Many companies also list current employees, sometimes with their start date and job title. Candidates will also often list these details on public social network sites like LinkedIn.
Don’t try to access private information
Someone’s Facebook account is public? Fine, it’s fair game. But trying to access private information (for example by creating a fake profile to ‘friend’ a candidate on a social media site) is crossing the line. As well as making sure your potential employee is someone you’d like to work with, you should also be making sure you’re someone you’d like to work with…
Don’t expect professional standards outside of work
Social media accounts are generally for socializing, so don’t expect that all Tweets will be perfectly grammatically correct or that all photos on Facebook will show the candidate in business attire. Be clear about whether the sources you’re studying show a potential employee’s professional or private face – the two can and probably should be different.
Do expect discretion
No business wants their dirty linen washed in public. If a candidate is making comments on social media that you feel are revealing company business inappropriately or that show a lack of professionalism at work, then that’s something to bring up at interview and may even warrant removing them from your short list.
Don’t be ruled by your prejudices
Everyone makes snap judgements but just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s the right way to make a hiring decision. Social media can give you a glimpse into a candidate’s life that you wouldn’t normally get from a CV or at interview. Don’t assume that what they do in their down time will compromise their work ethic.
Do ensure you’ve found the right person
Very few names are unique and it can be hard to make sure you’ve found the right John Smith. This is particularly true on social network sites like Twitter where most people use an alias. Treat all information you gather with suspicion and only judge the candidate on information you’ve checked thoroughly.
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