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Social media and recruitment

Social media and recruitment

Paula O'Kane
Dr Paula O’Kane: “Keep your personal and your work lives separate…”

Should social media play a role in employee selection?

Employers are increasingly using social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn as part of the selection process, to check a potential employee’s credentials and assess personality.

A Management Department research team interviewed New Zealand organisations and found most had used social networking sites, with or without candidate consent. Most had unofficially “peeked” at profiles, rather than making it an official part of the selection process.

The selectors said they wanted to assess skills and to “read between the lines” to gain a feel for the person.

However, Dr Paula O’Kane says social networking sites also provide insights into gender, age and ethnicity, increasing the risk for employers to illegally and subconsciously discriminate.

Although information on social media profiles is public, O’Kane questions how ethical it is to use it in the context of job applications and where to draw the line, particularly with information that is “private”.

She believes the ethical stance is to advise or gain consent to view social media content from interviewees, and to avoid accessing private information.

Whatever they chose to do, organisations should have a policy and adhere to it. She also warns there is insufficient research to show that social media assessment predicts future job performance.

This highlights the importance for individuals to be careful about what they want people to know. “Keep your personal and your work lives separate, and remember, even personal information that people think is locked using privacy settings still has the potential to be shared or discovered.”