John Mehtam, our Employment Law Specialist, said: “The social networking phenomenon is everywhere, with more and more people choosing to sign up every day. And now, as well as social benefits, employers are turning to these sites to check out potential recruits.
“In fact, one in four employers who screened candidates through social networking pages uncovered potential problems they were then able to avoid.”
John said all employers traditionally paid great attention to paper CVs when looking for new staff, and carefully prepared questions in advance to discover just what each person had to offer. “But how do you know that the details they have provided are accurate? Social networking sites give you the perfect opportunity to verify their claims.”
He said the most popular site was Facebook, but many professionals were now turning to LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com), which has more than 55 million members worldwide.
“It gives members the chance to stay in touch, and they can also use it to locate contacts in their own industries and other sectors. Most people list detailed information including their qualifications and career history, and unless someone has restricted who can view their profile, it’s simple to find them through the search facility on the home page.”
John said searching most sites was free and should take just minutes – then if something does show up, you can either ask the candidate to clarify it or reconsider hiring them.
“Careful research can save you difficulties in the long run, and equally it’s important to remember that if you’re using social networking sites yourself, take care with what you post or your competitors could find out more than you’d bargained for.”