Should HR & Recruiters Check Candidate’s Social Media Profiles?

When is it OK to check a candidate’s social media profiles?

You’ve found that perfect candidate, maybe you’ve already checked their LinkedIn profile, do you also check their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

An estimated 70 percent of employers use social networking sites to screen potential candidates according to a survey of more than 2000 employers conducted by CareerBuilder, an online recruitment company, with 54 percent deciding not to hire a candidate based on what they saw. If the profiles are public it’s OK though right? Maybe not!

In order to protect the data of candidates The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party have published guidelines on social media use in the recruitment process. The Opinion (although not legally binding but highly influential) advises on ‘the balance between legitimate interests of employers and the reasonable privacy expectations of employees by outlining the risks posed by new technologies and undertaking a proportionality assessment of a number of scenarios in which they could be deployed.’ ‘The Opinion’ is not legally binding but does provide an indication as to how EU data protection regulators will consider and interpret EU data protection law. The General Data Protection Regulation policy will become applicable on the 25th of May 2018.

According to ‘The Opinion’

When is it OK to check an applicant’s social media profiles?

  1. There is a ‘legal ground’ for doing so
  2. Doing so is necessary and relevant to the performance of the position being applied for
  3. The applicant has been informed that their social media profiles will be reviewed
  4. The employer complies with all of the data protection principles set out in the law


Prepare yourself with these simple steps

    1. Don’t assume you can check up on a candidate just because their profile is public
    2. If you feel it’s necessary make applicants aware their profiles will be reviewed during the process, this could be as simple as mentioning it in the job advertisement from the offset
    3. Think first, Is it absolutely necessary to check the candidates personal profiles


Does your company use social media to vet candidates? Does it hinder or help the recruitment process for you?