I Spy With My Little iPhone: 55% of Employers Snoop Candidate’ Social Networks

13th October 2014
Legislation

A recent report from CareerBuilder.co.uk shows that more than half of employers snoop into a candidate’s online presence, looking to social networking profiles to find out information about their potential workers. With this directly against UK legislation, is it really worth snooping into employees’ lives?

Social Network Spies
A surprising number of employers report frequently looking to the online world to find out more information about potential employees, with 55% of them saying what they found out directly influenced them not to offer the job. Looking to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to discover information is almost always likely to end badly, as social networking is exactly that: social. The complications of having a personal online profile available to be viewed by anyone, including employers, can be harmful. This may not be because the candidate is doing anything particularly wrong, but those photos from last weekend’s big night out will surely not present the professional veneer candidates are hoping for. The news has been awash with stories of employees being let go over comments that have been made on Facebook, which leads many to question the legality of such sackings.

UK legislation prohibits the use of information gained via such methods as it can be classed as discriminatory. Employers who are influenced by information that has not been handed over in a professional capacity, i.e., a CV or LinkedIn profile, run the risk not only of breaching legislation but also of missing out on top talent.

The Risks of Snooping
Apart from the legal side of the argument, the accuracy of research conducted through social networking profiles creates another problem for employers. Being sure that the person you are searching for is indeed the person on the CV is tough and relying on the information you find through this inefficient method could result in losing top candidates through sloppy research. From the candidate’s point of view, it is imperative to be mindful of the online society in which we live. If there are any less than flattering photos or slightly rude comments left by friends, these can be removed, or privacy settings can be increased to ensure only the essential information is available to be viewed.

Employers should also take into account the enormous amount of time wasted through trying to squeeze information from every profile. Estimates say that employers spend an average of 27 minutes looking through the Internet for information, this equates to almost four days-worth of snooping for a 75 candidate shortlist. Although it may seem important to get every last detail of a candidate’s personality so they can be better imagined as a core member of a team, their ability to perform the job in question is surely a more important aspect to consider first.

"Being sure that the person you are searching for is indeed the person on the CV is tough and relying on the information you find through this inefficient method could result in losing top candidates through sloppy research."