Boyden Executive Search

Social media screening in recruitment is nothing new. Boyden South Africa's Fay Voysey-Smit shares best practices for employers and candidates for managing both a professional and personal online persona. 

By Fay Voysey-Smit
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People can give a lot of insight into their true selves online, so it can be a sound way to get a sense of their behaviours and beliefs, and whether they will be a good cultural fit with an organisation. But public outcry erupted in February 2019 when the Public Service and Administration Department said that it would screen candidates’ social media profiles as part of its recruitment process.

Concerns were raised around privacy and potential discrimination based on personal data, like political affiliation or sexual orientation.

Social media screening

Social media screening in recruitment is nothing new. As the Department rightly points out, it’s an international trend: 70% of employers research candidates on social networking sites during the hiring process.

For digital law expert Emma Sadleir, social media audits should be an integral part of any recruitment process. In fact, she says employers who don’t screen potential candidates this way could be acting negligently.

That’s because anything an individual posts on social media can – and will – be linked to his or her employer, whether or not they’re still employed by the company. Even a tangential link can make the company guilty by association. A particular case in point is Penny Sparrow vs Jawitz Properties.

You are what you post

It’s foolish to believe that you can delineate your personal and professional lives in the digital age. Social media profiles that are open to the public can be scrutinised on anything from your past employers to your friends and family.

Posting anything offensive can result in your virtual lynching, along with demands for your dismissal and calls to boycott any associated employer – even if there is no wrongdoing on their part. These sparks catch fire and spread fast, igniting campaigners in kindled support, until the company must act to defend itself.

For a business, this brings a new dimension to the cost of a bad hire, because, adding insult to injury, a company is likely to face reputational damage from alignment with a questionable post – plus the cost and effort of regaining trust.

Whether you’re on the job hunt or sourcing a new candidate, here are some tips:

For employees:

For employers:

Remember this:

If you’re an employer: Skills can be taught; ethics, values, and cultural fit cannot.
 If you’re a candidate: Depending on how you present and conduct yourself online, you can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. Strive for the former.

The author Fay Voysey-Smit also published this blog post on LinkedIn, please visit this link to view the original:

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