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Does Your Facebook Fit?

Social networking is a peculiar phenomenon. You’re nobody without a Facebook account. Even the great and the good are there …Michael Jackson has 10 million followers (death or no death),Barack Obama has a following of 6.5 million and there are dozens of other celebs as well as the ordinary bods.

Talking to a colleague in the recruitment industry this week, she said that one of her client companies only uses Facebook to recruit. Social networking has had a significant effect on recruitment, changing the way businesses identify, source and attract candidates. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn make it easier for businesses to access information about prospective employees.

This makes it far easier to identify candidates with suitable qualifications, experience and interests as well as getting a more accurate and well-rounded impression of the individual than is possible from a CV alone. While it’s true that a Facebook profile will tell you more about a candidate’s personality than a CV, a potential candidate could also disclose information about a current or previous employer, which may influence the recruitment process.

With 20% of employers now using social media as part of their recruiting process, it’s important to identify and defuse the risks. The most likely risk is that of unlawful discrimination. If you decide not to include a candidate on the basis of his Facebook profile, he can ask for disclosure under the Data Protection Act in order to try and prove discrimination based on his profile.

Some companies are taking a proactive approach to social networking and have created their own Facebook profiles. Ernst & Young have created a network of nearly 16,000 members across 140 countries, allowing potential candidates as well as employees, to network.

We don’t use social neworks for recruitment; we don’t consider it to be good practice, but if you decide to include these sites within your processes, then put some precautions in place:

  • Ensure that your recruiting managers are trained in equal opportunities.
  • Keep a paper trail and archive print-outs that you have used when assessing a candidate.
  • Review your policies and make it clear that only HR is allowed to consult online profiles.

Social networking is here to stay, but do take care that you don’t fall foul of the law.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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