Should employers rely on social media to check on candidate’s background?

By Ilhamie Arif

Social media monitoring has become a trend now for organisations before hiring employees to know their background. Some people question whether it is necessary to go for social media checking as it is informal as compared to conducting interviews. However, certain companies think it is a legal trend to assess the potential employees or even the current employees on the basis of their social media activities.

Facebook and other social media platforms are normally used to share opinion, get connected with friends and family members, and to get involved in communities of people with similar interests while some tend to share their activities whether in a positive or negative way.

Therefore, the companies can use social media in many ways when hiring such people or to recruit candidates by publicising job openings and to conduct background checks to confirm a candidate’s qualifications for a certain position. Some employers want to cast as broad a net as possible to reach as many potential candidates as they can, and they are increasingly harnessing social media as part of their recruitment strategy. But it should be only a part of the strategy as it is informal and seems to be more leisure and open.

However, some companies measure the potential employee’s knowledge and credibility by looking at the kind of activities being posted on their Facebook page. This is because there are many cases where we can see complaints and critics by the employees themselves about the company’s management on social media which will indirectly tarnish the image of the company. This is where the relevance of having social media assessment is important to ensure that employees are not sharing private company information or negatively representing the organisation in the virtual realm or online.

On the other hand, employers who check applicants out online run a number of legal risks. Firstly, an employer who looks at an applicant’s Facebook page or other social media posts could well learn information that it isn’t entitled to have or to consider during the hiring process. This can lead to discrimination claims. For example, your posts or page might reveal your ethnicity, disclosing that you are pregnant, or espouse your political or religious views. This type of information is off limits in the hiring process, and an employer who discovers it online and uses it as a basis for hiring decisions could face a discrimination lawsuit.

Basically employers have a legal right to monitor employees’ conduct on their work computers and social media but the only time employers have a legal duty to monitor employee communications is when the employer has reason to believe that the employee is engaged in illegal conduct.

Thus, some opinion stated that human resources professionals should not allow irrelevant information to influence their decision. It is possible for employers to find publicly available information on social media and online data that is professionally relevant to be assessed. For example, an employer can ensure or detect the potential employee for having potentially violent activity, sexually explicit activity, an illegal activity, and demonstrations of racism or intolerance, all these can be assessed through their social media usage and is crucial for the company.

Furthermore, it depends on the company and the employer itself whether to practise this idea or not. It is beneficial and relevant to have it, but on the other hand, it is not that valid and inappropriate because social media is a free social site which should not be used as a method of assessing someone for a job hiring. ***


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9 thoughts on “Should employers rely on social media to check on candidate’s background?

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