75% of graduate recruiters are concerned that accessing candidate information via Facebook and other online networks can get in the way of a “fair and measurable” recruitment process. However, just 5% have a clear policy on whether information accessed via such online sites can be used in selection processes, according to the latest findings from the Social Media Audit conducted by Penna Barkers, one of the UK’s leading providers of recruitment and marketing communications.

Phill Lane, Head of Planning at Penna Barkers, says: “Whilst in theory there is nothing wrong with employers viewing information about a candidate on a social networking site if it is in the public domain, doing so is risky and could leave recruiters vulnerable to discrimination claims if that information is used injudiciously.”

“Social media is a hot topic in graduate recruitment, and a substantial proportion (44%) of graduate recruiters has some kind of Facebook presence. But very few organisations have yet created a coherent social media strategy that deals effectively with the considerable potential for overlap between student, recruiter and line management use of the same platforms.”

“Candidates should be aware of potential problems when uploading information about themselves for all to see”, warns Phill Lane. He says, “Our Social Media Audit shows that what people write online changes substantially with age. Those over the age of 32 are very wary of managing their digital footprint, completely cutting out any spontaneity in their online activity in case it comes back to haunt them. Whereas respondents aged 31 and under tend to rely instead on sites’ security settings in the hope that these will keep their private activity from getting into the hands of future employers.”

Online employer reputation

Although 90% of organisations believe managing their employer reputation online is important, just 38% feel able to do it well and more than half of organisations do absolutely nothing to manage their reputation online.

Phill Lane adds: “Social media is used both personally and professionally by huge numbers of recruiters and candidates and not everybody shares the same beliefs as to how information should be used. In the same way that employers can search for candidates online, potential recruits are conducting background research online to find out information about organisations and their individual recruiters. This makes it essential for both employers and applicants to be proactive and manage their digital footprint to ensure they are presenting themselves in the way that they want to be perceived.”

Other findings:

• One in seven employers surveyed sees social media as “dangerous”
• Just 23% of recruiters are ‘confident users’ of social media
• 54% of employers who feel that they are not able to manage their reputation online do nothing to actively manage it through the use of social media
• Twitter & LinkedIn have little traction amongst graduate audiences
• Although 44% of recruiters regularly comment on blogs, just 17% have permission to do so on behalf of their organisation.

For further details visit http://www.penna.com/sma