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Social networking and recruitment
- Advertising jobs: many employers use social media to advertise and recruit new employees: for example, posting job vacancies on websites or using smart phones to attract interest from specific target audiences.
- Screening applicants: employees are often unaware that their social networking pages are being used by employers as part of a screening process before offering interviews. They may be looking for evidence of what they consider 'inappropriate' behaviour or language.
- Saves time and money: there are clearly huge savings for employers using free, electronic channels for recruitment. They can also reach more potential recruits quickly - social networking sites have huge audiences.
- Less bureaucracy: a new generation of employees are using social media to job hunt by making direct contact with potential employers and HR and recruitment officers, often bypassing traditional recruitment processes. This trend - referred to as the 'death of the gatekeeper' - means that employees can be better informed about possible employers and more creative about how they promote themselves.
- Social exclusion: recruiting or assessing potential recruits using social media can exclude people who do not have access to these facilities. In 2009, 30% of the population were not using the internet (down from 41% in 2003) and around 9% of businesses with ten or more employees still had no internet access.
- Discrimination: laws protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of age, sex, disability, race, marriage, religion and belief, and sexual orientation start at the recruitment stage. Employers could face employment tribunal hearings if they refused to interview someone as a result of a judgement they made based on a social networking profile.
Acas Senior Guidance Editor, Adrian Wakeling, talks about social media in the workplace.
The way forward
- Consider all the recruitment methods available to you. Acas advices you use at least two different recruitment channels. These might include:
- internal recruitment: in the current economic climate many organisations are focusing on making the most of existing in-house skills.
- JobCentre Plus provides a professional recruitment service for employers to advertise their vacancies and employees to browse for jobs.
- keeping in touch with local schools, colleges and the Careers service will help to promote your skills needs. It can also be useful to offer work experience or shadowing to students.
- local newspapers and radio and specialist professionals journals can be useful but also consider broadening your search to include those communities less likely to use mainstream channels, such as ethnic minority groups.
- Be careful if using social networking sites to screen employees as you may run the risk of discriminating against candidates.
- Employees should review the access settings on their social networking sites, to guard against invasion of privacy. Many commentators have drawn a parallel between the interaction that takes place on social networking sites and social gatherings in cafés or pubs - both may be used to 'let off steam' but electronic meetings often leave behind a permanent record of what was said and give employers the opportunity to eavesdrop in a way they would not have in the past.
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