Ms. Nonato reported in PostMedia news that a job candidate in Ontario was asked in an interview to provide his Facebook login and password so the employer to could investigate the interest, photos and people the candidate was involved with. Most of us would readily question the privacy rights of that candidate and the levels of ethical consideration of the employer; however, the request in Ontario was neither illegal nor immoral. In fact, temptation exists with the increase of social media to dig-in and evaluate candidates because what candidates do is much less private than it used to be and the organizational impact can be severe.
In Alberta and British Columbia the privacy laws would suggest, even with consent of an employee, the Ontario employee request would violate privacy rights. This demonstrates the differences among regions and the muddy waters of social media and candidate investigation – something recruiters are on the front lines of. For recruiters there are two perspectives worth considering:
1) Candidate Evaluation: Recruiters are the first to evaluate candidates based on our client’s needs. The question is how deep do we dig? Facebook, associations, LinkedIn, blogs, pictures…for some the list is endless. Can we as recruiters eliminate a candidate because we feel a picture lacks professionalism, or a blog uses bold words in the act of sharing an opinion? Moreover, is finding no information on a candidate an indication they are hiding something and cause for concern? It is becoming relevant in our varied staffing organizations to establish hard lines for our clients, so they know our research methods and criteria.
Consider the following: You meet with two candidates and in subsequent investigation on Facebook discover that one candidate wants to have a child within the year. The second candidate displays pictures of himself holding a bong, commonly used for drug use, although no signs of participation are seen. How do we or should we use this information to evaluate these candidates? Do these comments or pictures have any bearing on the job the candidate can do or professionalism of their work? Do they make the candidate more or less risky and how do we evaluate based on employment laws and standards?
One approach is shared by Executrade’s Vice President of Northern Alberta, Kelly Martin, who identified that the privacy laws are a slippery slope and the area continues to become dark gray as social media increases. Executrade’s approach remains very structured, eliminating any social media other than LinkedIn as a professional business tool. Google searches, Facebook scans and other social communities are not part of getting to know candidates. Executrade focuses on traditional mediums of getting to know the candidates professionally. Some may feel this approach lacks a ‘modern’ perspective; however, Executrade believes privacy trumps a modern approach in all cases.
2) Recruiter Tools: Recruiters have tools to use. LinkedIn is an example of one tool that recruiters can share opinion that may not be reflective of the agencies position. Moreover, in our industry the recruiter and the brand of the firm share space in driving opportunity and action of one impact the other. So how much latitude should the firm have on the recruiters LinkedIn profile? Given LinkedIn is a best practice within the industry, how far can the firm guide/dictate recruiter profiles?
These are very difficult social media questions that recruiters face daily and in an increasing way. At Executrade we have an established social media policy that begins to address the concerns social media presents in evaluation and activity as a recruiter. However, the document has to be living because social media continues to evolve art rapid rates; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are just the beginning – not the end. We have to have the foresight to see the impact of social media and the increased public faces of our candidates, clients and ourselves…that is what specialists do.
Simplicity would suggest, if you want a job done right, ask a specialist.
Executrade -Your Recruitment Specialists
Kelly Martin: http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/kelly-martin/9/b99/214