Social Media – Should You Look?
Nov 10, 2013
Social Media – Should You Look?
Nov 10, 2013

The Last Great Recruitment Taboo

Social media:  Should you look?

92% of recruiters look at potential employees’ social media profiles according to a survey by Jobvite.

It’s no surprise that so many employers are using social media to screen prospective employees.  These days an online presence is practically expected and it’s not just for the youngsters – 79% of LinkedIn users are over 35.  When you add Facebook, Twitter and Google+ into the equation with just a few clicks you can easily summon the good, the bad and the ugly of a candidate’s professional and personal lives, thanks to all the digital records they, their friends and their family leave behind in social media.  But should you look?  And if you do, what information can you actually use?

Look for the positives
A social media search should not be seen as a negative screening technique, in fact sometimes it’s better not to look at all until you have met the candidate face to face.  But for an insight into their professional presence check out LinkedIn and look for positive attributes such as:

  • A professional online presence
  • Good spelling and grammar
  • Consistency between their job history and their CV
  • Insightful statuses and posts
  • References to your industry
  • Following relevant organisations
  • Creativity
  • Positivity
  • Memberships of organisations
  • Endorsements from other professionals

Beware the Negatives
Social media checks cannot be used as part of the hiring decision.  When looking at social media the temptation can be to make snap judgements based on what you see.  Social media is complex:  being tagged without permission is common and inappropriate comments can be posted by others without representing the candidate’s point of view.

Statuses and photographs can also be taken out of context and cannot be taken as solid evidence.  Judgements on what is appropriate will also certainly vary – interestingly, the majority of employers have a dimmer view of poor spelling and grammar than photographs of binge drinking.  Most importantly, ensure you are looking at the correct profile.

However, there are warning signs.  These ‘red alerts’ should be treated in the same way as if you had gleaned the information during interview.  These include:

  • Bigoted or racist remarks
  • Overly sexual language
  • Excessive profanity
  • Threatening language
  • Poor grammar and spelling

Taboo Areas
Just as in the interview, there is taboo information that you CANNOT use to discriminate for or against a candidate under any circumstances.  These include:

  • Age
  • Marital status or sexual preference
  • Children
  • Political status
  • Place of birth, ethnicity or religion
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Disability & illness

It’s our opinion that social media is an extremely valuable source of information – but one that should be used with caution.  What do you think?  We’d love you to join the conversation.  Tweet us @ITRecruitment or follow us on Facebook.


Ready to recruit?

Here at Langley James, we know how to find the most vibrant and talented pforessionals available.  Whatever your requirements, permanent or contract, and up to the highest level of seniority, we can find you the ideal candidate.  To discuss your IT recruitment needs call us on  0207 099 4839 or email us at

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