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Social Media and Its Growing Role in the Hiring and Firing Of Staff

Published 22 August 2016

It appears the online ramblings of job hunters are influencing a significant number of employers when it comes to hiring new staff. It has been reported that a new survey has revealed that a third of employers admit they have made the decision to reject a job applicant after viewing their social media profile (1).

With various online platforms now viewed by many as the appropriate place to reveal their innermost thoughts, regardless of any offence caused, it is providing the employer with a behind the scenes view to the carefully crafted CV and appearance often presented at an interview.

The study by jobs board Monster and YouGov spoke to four thousand HR professionals and 36 per cent disclosed they chose not to interview an applicant, or had rejected one following interview, after checking their social media posts. Of those quizzed 65 per cent said they Googled potential employees.

Viewing a candidate’s social media postings is nothing new, and it is not illegal. However, employers need to be careful not to base their decisions on factors such as age, race, sex, religion or sexual orientation as discrimination laws still need to be considered during the recruitment process (2).

The Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) has an established guide (3), which includes a section on good practice for reviewing a candidate’s online activity when hiring new staff.

The online postings of established employees can also create problems for employers and there have been several high profile examples (4).

There can be some contention in relation to what is acceptable behaviour on social media. When postings are made outside of the workplace an employee may well claim they have a right to free speech and a private life

Certainly in the current climate it is advisable to have a clear policy in place, and to deal with any breaches of it in the same manner as any other kind of disciplinary or grievance matter.

The policy should make it clear what type of online behaviour is considered unacceptable. For those employers who may not yet have such a policy in place Acas has drawn up a useful guide to producing one (5).

Castle Associates can help you draft any number of your employment policy documents, including your Social Media Policy, for more information get in touch and one of our specialist advisors will guide you through the process.


  1. Calnan M. Third of employers have turned down candidates because of their social media profile - People Management Magazine Online [Internet]. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. 2016 [cited 2016 Aug 22]. Available from:
  2. GOV.UK. Employers: preventing discrimination - GOV.UK [Internet]. GOV.UK. 2016 [cited 2016 Aug 22]. Available from:
  3. CIPD. Pre-employment Checks 2013 [Internet]. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; 2013 [cited 2016 Aug 22]. Available from:
  4. Jamieson S. British Council boss attacks Prince George for “white privilege” and living “on public money” [Internet]. The Telegraph. 2016 [cited 2016 Aug 22]. Available from:
  5. ACAS. Social Media: How to Develop Policy Guidance | Acas [Internet]. ACAS. [cited 2016 Aug 22]. Available from:

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