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Should your personal Facebook account be off-limits to potential employers and recruiters? #socialrpo

I was browsing through some of the conversations and discussions in the ever enthralling IrishRecruiters Group on Linked In today when I came across a Discussion started by Ella Wallace of Hays regarding Germany’s plans to legislate against employers and recruiters using someone’s Facebook or other Social Media footprint to make hiring decisions.

There were a variety of very interesting and relevant comments from in-house and external recruiters and here is my two cents:
At the end of the day it would be remiss of recruiters and hiring managers not to utilise the wealth of information and content that is out there when sourcing for candidates and making hiring decisions but it is important to see everything in context and make your judgements accordingly.  If you are an avid Facebooker or Tweeter then you will understand that what is said on-line is not definitive and is but one perspective.  Just as many hiring managers and recruiters form subjective judgements based on non-relevant observations such as “the handshake”, the school somebody went to or their accent, it is inevitable that some hiring managers and recruiters will be unfairly biased towards applicants based on their social media footprint.
Legislation has not been successful in removing many of our unfair biases to applicants so why should it work when it comes to Social Media?
More attention should be given to designing a rigorous assessment process that ensures that we identify the correct skills, experience and behaviours required for a particular position ensuring that we measure only those elements in a scientific and unbiased manner.  An applicant’s social media footprint should form part of the overall reference check and education verification process but not before an unbiased assessment has been conducted.  Just as we are unlikely to rule out someone based on one uncharacteristic reference, an isolated faux pas on Facebook should not be definitive either.  However an employer should feel justified in rejecting an applicant if they uncover a consistent track record of inappropriate behaviour online that would be obviously detrimental to the person’s likely performance in the job at hand.

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