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Hot gossip

Yesterday there was a news article which reported on the damage that people (especially young people) are doing to their career prospects by saying rather too much on social media platforms. It’s common knowledge (confirmed by both The Recruitment Society and The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) that most employers now research job candidates online.

Jamie Oliver might have been The Naked Chef; he didn’t literally post pictures of himself naked – but you’d be amazed how many people do just that. And we have caught so many employees out when they call in sick, barely able to raise their heads from the pillow (they say in that funny croaky voice that some sickies adopt)– and then we get Facebook updates and photos of them having a high old time out on the razz. Presented with the evidence, they have little option but to ‘fess up.

It is legal for employers to search social media sites. Provided that the basis of a decision not to progress an application or award a job is not for an unjustifiable reason connected to a protected characteristic, prospective employers to regret candidates.

Employees should also be careful about what they say about their employers once they’re employed. Even if you’ve had a really bad day, remember that discretion is the better part of valour. Many employees don't realise they can be dismissed if they post negative comments about their company. David Rowat was dismissed by Argos after complaining about his job on Facebook. He had returned from a two week holiday and the first day back was a bit chaotic. After work Mr Rowat wrote on his Facebook page: "Had a great day back at work after my hols who am I kidding!!" This was followed by: "Back to the shambles that is work." Like Queen Victoria, Argos was not amused and ultimately dismissed him for gross misconduct.

If an employee brings his employer into disrepute, the company may well take formal disciplinary action. Posting something negative about the workplace can break the relationship of trust and confidence which must subsist between the employer and employee and sometimes it can be so serious that the employment relationship has to end.

Newsbeat (which ran yesterday’s article) offers the following tips to avoid trouble with employers whilst online

  1. Check your privacy settings. Keep your private life private.
  2. Do have a presence on social networks. If not you may be at a disadvantage.
  3. Monitor your channels. Check what friends are posting about you.
  4. Maximise the potential - search employers, and connect.
  5. Ask "would my mum or gran approve of what I am posting?" If not, don't risk it.

Where it is appropriate to do so, employers can make checks into social media activity at the recruitment stage to assess the way a potential recruit manages and presents himself publicly online through social media and networking. One company we work with have gained some very interesting insights. For more information visit their website (www.sp-index.com)

To contribute your experience as an employer, take the SP-Index online survey http://www.sp-index.com/onlinesurvey.html

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