With the rise of technology in the recent decade, it becomes the question of whether or not it’s ethical to incorporate social media in the recruitment process. How much is too much?

Glenn Greenwald talks about why privacy matters and the basis of his case is: if people have nothing to hide, why do they go through the measures of securing their online profiles or even homes? Greenwald says it’s easy for you to say your privacy doesn’t matter, but the actions you do to hide your information on your profiles shows differently.

“Only people who are engaged in bad acts have a reason to want to hide and to care about their privacy.”

Glenn Greenwald

Something mentioned in a previous post, Jobvite’s Social Recruiting Survey in 2014 found 51% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on their social profile, with 61% of those reconsiderations being negative. But what is considered negative to allow an employer to reconsider? Surely there is a difference in freedom of speech and not hiring a candidate due to illegal/criminal past or even racist/sexist/homophobic posts. A case like Justine Sacco is a fine example of a comment gone wrong. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recommend for employers to be cautious about the way they conduct searches and to balance employers’ interests with the applicants. Below I have created a summarised PowerPoint on the section of using social media to support recruitment:

However, it is important for employers to do the necessary background checks against a candidate. Social media may be used to find information that will support any qualification or skills stated for the job. According to CareerBuilder, employers want to see if the candidate conveys and maintains a professional online persona/image which will allow them to fit into the companies culture appropriately. Additionally, through screening social media accounts, employers are able to see if a candidate has a wide set of interests, creativity and communication skills that can be brought to the company.

Granted, it’s difficult for a person to screen and monitor a candidate’s social media and not be biased. An article from TIME picks up on this point and says that this generation is more socially and politically aware than the previous and are vocal about it. Whilst a company may be impartial, the recruiter screening may have subjective feelings and discriminate against the candidate’s views/opinions. Consequently, the legal complications the company could face are vast. Until there are proper rules on what is ethical or not, it is down to recruiters to really consider the importance of what they discover through social media.





Greenwald, G. (2014) Why privacy matters. Google+. Available from: http://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_matters#t-438399 [Accessed 25 November 2016].
Kumar, S. (2015) Why monitoring employees’ social media is a bad idea. Available from: http://time.com/3894276/social-media-monitoring-work/ [Accessed 25 November 2016].
McDonnell, A. (2016) 60% employers use social media to screen job candidates. Available from: http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2016/04/28/37823/ [Accessed 25 November 2016].
(2014) Social recruiting survey. Available from: https://www.jobvite.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Jobvite_SocialRecruiting_Survey2014.pdf [Accessed 25 November 2016].