Screening Your New Employee Online – Ethical or Essential?

screening new employee onlineSocial media also known as social Networking has transformed the way the public socializes and statistics have shown that 8 in every 10 people use a social network site. While this is commendable, the way in which social media is being exploited by both employers and employees has come under some scrutiny. The employment screening process of years passed involved receiving a CV, letters of recommendation and then going through the information provided while contacting the relevant references to confirm if information provided is legitimate.

The popularity of social networks has taken employee screening exercise one step further and employers are beginning to sneak up on their prospective workers to glean information which could either mar or increase the chances of a job seeker been hired. Sometimes they go as far as to employ private investigators to assist with the job.

A survey showed that 30% of employers have consulted the Facebook or Twitter accounts of their future employees and 20% claim that what they saw directly influenced their final decisions. Although these checks are done in secret, the public is beginning to know that this is the trick followed by the employers. Therefore social network users are beginning to block their pages from public view. This article is designed to look at the effect of screening employees through social media sites and if it is ethical.

The Sincerity of a Profile

A profile can be described as a page that shows a person’s personal information, likes, dislikes and taste. A profile acts as a window for the world to see or know about an individuals personality therefore most profiles contain information that can either be false or slightly embellished to make the owner seem attractive and fun to know. Employers who sneak through such profiles can be mislead to think either positively or negatively about a prospective employee not knowing the information provided might be false. Taking a decision with the information gleaned, could harm either the employer or employee.

A Status or Tweet

This is a statement that the owner of a profile writes, showing the way he or she feels at the moment. Employers have been known to go through their employees’ status looking for any write-up that is directed at their boss. A recent case was that of a woman who tweeted that she hated her boss and he had a bad body odour. Her boss saw it and needless to say, she was quickly relieved of her duties. The question that now comes in is if this new trend is ethical and can any legal action be taken against employers who do it?

The Question of Ethics

The question of ethics in this case is intertwined with that of privacy and the law states that every man deserves his privacy, freedom of speech and the choice of how to conduct his or her affairs as long as it does not infringe on any laws. In this light, employers who snoop through their potential employees’ social media pages, tenant screenings record or have the audacity to ask for employee’s user name and password are wrong for everyone has a right to privacy. As for now, there are no legal laws that directly restrict these forms of screening but general complaints from employees might soon bring about the creation of legal restrictions on sneaky employers.

Is Employee Screening Essential?

Employment screening is definitely essential for the safety of an employer’s business organization because it helps weed out fraudsters and incompetent workers. However, the screening exercise should be carried out properly and prospective employee’s privacy should be respected. Performing landlord credit checks and confirming the employee’s recommendations should be enough to know who you are hiring and this is the ethical way of screening an employee. Radical methods such as snooping through social media sites and asking for passwords should be avoided at all cost.

The Employee

The employee also has some responsibility and a reputation to maintain when he or she visits a social network site. A respectable profile and status that are up building should be the way to go and if the employee is the sensitive type, then he or she should avoid the use of social media sites altogether. This would save both the employee and the boss all the unnecessary squabble that can result from a misconstrued sentence.