Looking at applicants’ social media: What you need to know.

David Cliff, Vice-Chairman of the IoD in the North East, and Managing Director of Gedanken has given his top tips for employers when looking at the social media of potential employees.

David said:“It is appropriate for employers to look at aspects of applicants’ social media that are made public, the issue is how they interpret it. The onus is on the employer to consider the wider context of what they see.

“Some employers may see something they don’t like on social media and take a risk-averse approach. They should consider factors like the development of the applicant in terms of maturity and professionalism since any offending content was posted.

“An overly risk averse approach to social media when hiring could lead to companies missing out on a wide range of talent and filling its ranks with only certain types of employees.

“In 2013 the Youth Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, Paris Brown, was appointed at the age of 17, then forced to resign due to historic social media posts made between the ages of 13 and 16. It would be reasonable for employers, especially those who had their formative years before the rise of social media, to make an effort to understand how young people they take on may have changed and grown up, and how in the modern world this is inextricably linked to social media.

“Social media is often used as an outlet for people at times of stress and grief, which some individuals, including those involved in the recruitment process, could see as over sharing, or a sign of weakness.”