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Friday, 27 February 2015

Member Blog: The Pros and Cons of Social Media

By Ailsa Lorimer – Screening Manager, REED Screening & Compliance Services

In this day and age it’s hard to go a day without checking our various social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and so many others that it would take up this full article to mention them all. I can’t be the only one who breaks out into a cold sweat the minute I realise I’ve left my precious smart phone at home and now have to suffer through a day without those all important insights into what my friends, family, colleagues and various other people I don’t even know have had for their dinner.

Whilst the content of my Facebook page and Instagram keeps me more than entertained on a daily basis, working in the pre-employment vetting industry I can’t help but think about just how much information there is about an individual online. Information that can more often than not be incriminating and information that the majority of people wouldn’t want shared with prospective employers, particularly when they’ve put so much effort into a CV that paints them in the best light.

At REED Screening our aim is to vet potential employees to the best possible standard thus ensuring that our clients are getting quality workers who pose minimal risk. Our clients have very specific needs with regards to the checks we carry out on individuals. We complete a range of checks including credit, fraud, ID, referencing and criminal record checks, but, as times have moved on so have the needs of our clients and one area that has featured heavily this year is the increased use of social media checks. At the most basic level this is done in the form of a Google search, which in itself returns interesting results. If you’ve ever taken the time to Google yourself you’ll know that results include information about your Facebook account, your Instagram account, your LinkedIn profile and any news articles you may have been mentioned in and you’re only a click away from those pictures you wish you’d never taken.

Working in recruitment I know that it’s the news articles in particular  that are most relevant for any employer. Despite what information is held on your CV, it’s actually these results that can make the difference between your dream job and another week trawling through various job sites. News articles can be particularly damning. One recent example that springs to mind is a news article that featured a recruitment consultant based in Huddersfield working for a well known recruitment agency. Just a simple search on that worker's name calls up several articles on £8,000 fraud that he committed whilst in employment. Dependent on the other checks that have been run in conjunction with the media check, it’s very possible that this information would have cropped up elsewhere, however I think it’s safe to say that the media check alone is worth its weight, particularly if the appropriate actions haven’t been taken by the ex-employer in terms of full disclosure to future employers on the reference and adding that person to the relevant fraud databases.

There are a lot of clients who don’t conduct this check just yet so all is not lost for now, but with the increased number of us that now use social media and the freely available information I can’t imagine it will be too much time before other employers begin using the check as part of their pre-employment vetting.

So, in summary, and the very obvious moral of the story, for all those wishing to procure a new job in the near future, pay very close attention to exactly what it is you’re uploading to your various social media sites so that you can walk into that coveted interview with the knowledge that your potential employer is getting the best possible first impression.

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