Blogging, Social Media & Technology, EDP Column

Hiring and firing decisions based on social media

Employer spying out employee social media

These are my ruminations (or two penn’th worth) on Post-40 Bloggers’ writing prompt No. 56 – ‘Social Media: The Conflict Between Work and Play.’

The use of social media in hiring and firing decisions gives me pause when used unlawfully and without discretion. This pertains as much to the employer as the employee.

On the one hand, we’re saying lock down social media if you don’t want your employer to know you go home on a Friday night and dress the cat in a négligée and lipstick. The inference being odd behaviour is okay (dating the cat is odd, right?) if no-one knows about it? So are we then punishing people in the workplace for just being plain stupid in not locking down their social media – or taking the moral high ground on how people should behave in their personal lives?

And is it reasonable to expect we are the same people in and outside of the workplace, anyway?

A person’s age also has some bearing on how we look at social media indiscretions. Yes, some young people go out, get drunk and dance on tables. This is really a big reveal? And, of course, no employer ever did anything wild and crazy when younger. Of course not.

So what am I saying, and would I Google someone I was thinking of hiring?

Yes, I would, but only in a cursory manner to ensure they don’t in fact come up on Britain’s most wanted list. However, would I spend hours delving and digging to UNCOVER information? No, I wouldn’t. Dig into anyone’s personal life off or online long enough and you’re going to find something.

But whatever side of this social media fence we sit on, whether as employer or employee, let us just make sure we are the right side of good old-fashioned, off-line employment law when making hiring and firing decisions based on someone’s social media conduct.

HMS HerMelness Speaks