Keep it legal! Using social media as a recruitment tool

Many forward-thinking organisations are utilising social media platforms to help compliment their current candidate attraction strategies. But before you jump online to your favoured social media channel, take a moment to make sure that you keep on the right side of the law when it comes to using social media as a recruitment tool for attracting and researching candidates.


Posting job adverts
Before you touch that keyboard, make sure that your job advertisement is free from any type of discrimination and will not offend anyone that should see it. Don’t forget that anything you post online has the potential to reach far further than to just your friends or contacts list, so it’s essential that you don’t damage your brand and reputation online by posting something that may be perceived as discriminatory.

Viewing candidate’s profiles online
Although viewing prospective new employee’s profiles online isn’t illegal, the actions you take subject to your findings and assumptions of the characteristics of that person must be carefully considered.

By viewing someone’s personal postings and profile, you can gain a better idea of the type of person they are and their suitability for the position. You will also be aware of certain characteristics, such as race, gender and age – all of which are part of the nine ‘protected characteristics’ which, by law, are the characteristics that a person has which cannot be used to discriminate against them.

The nine protected characteristics are as follows:
•religion or belief
•pregnancy and maternity
•marriage and civil partnership
•sexual orientation
•gender reassignment

Generally speaking, you can also gain an insight into the not-so visible characteristics listed above from posts, for example, if someone is celebrating a particular religious festival or event.

Be aware that as far as the law is concerned, once you have viewed a person’s profile the assumption is made that you are aware of the protected characteristics that person has from simply viewing their personal posts.

You will find certain personal posts made by the candidate to be suggestive of their views, opinions and activities both in and outside of work. On occasion, you may come across certain elements that make you question whether or not this candidate is suitable for the position.

For example, a candidate may have posted that they are staying home from work on sick leave in order to watch a football match, or may have expressed racist or sexist views on their profile.

Remember, gaining this information is not illegal – but how you choose to use it can be. If you do opt to use this information, take a screen shot of it if you need to question the candidates’ professionalism at interview. Interviewing a candidate lessens the likelihood of you being accused of making recruitment decisions based solely upon your findings from Facebook, or any other social media platform.

If you do choose to use this information, you must prove that you have treated all candidates equally in the respect that their profiles are viewed during the same stage of the recruitment process to ensure fairness.

In conclusion, although you can lawfully use information found on social media in your recruitment process, do not use it in order to form an opinion on the candidate or make any final decisions before meeting with a candidate face to face.

For further information on using social media as a recruitment tool, call 01782 338787 to speak to an experienced and knowledgeable member of the Appointments Personnel team or email me at