References and Social Networking Sites
Why are more people using Social Networking Sites to assist making decisions on future employees, suppliers and existing employees?
Employment References, over the past decade have become nothing more than Employment Verifications, rarely is a written reference obtained giving statements and opinions from line managers on subjects such as performance, peer and management relationships, strengths and weaknesses. Even the question “Would you re employ this person? Can be answered "It is against company policy" Some would say this information is needed to make an informed decision. Now all that is supplied are the bare facts such as Job Title, Dates of Employment / contract and salary, even the salary sometimes can only be given if permission is given from the person the reference is regarding. Employment Verifications in days gone by would have only been supplied to mortgage lenders or landlords.
So, why have Employment References become difficult to obtain? Two reasons, The Data Protection Act 1988 and the ever booming Compensation Culture.
The Data Protection Act 1998 actually makes an exception regarding Employment References relating to training, employment or providing a service, however the recipient of the reference is not protected by this exemption, more information can be found at Data Protection Good Practice Note - Subject access and employment references http://tinyurl.com/b5z3tx
The cost of a bad decision relating to new employees or suppliers can be costly and an informed knowledgeable decision is typically more reliable than decisions based on feelings or intuition. So when minimal information is gleamed from "References" it is becoming popular to use other mediums.
So what of social networking sites; Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo; will your future clients make their decisions on the search results of those individuals employed by your company rather than on the information draw from searching on the company itself, if so how will this be monitored in the future?
Caution should always be exercised in relation to breaching discriminatory hiring practices on the basis of religion, race, gender, marital status, disability, and so on although so far there has not been any publicity of this, but are the days numbered before it is?
With so much archived historical information being uploaded onto the web you never know what dark secrets may resurface, although quite funny, does Robert Opal still wish to be reminded of his 1973 antics and what views are drawn on by those that search on him, and can Gerard Ratner ever move on from his 1991 gaffe. And the poor people with the same names as others that they may not wish to be associated with, where is it all going?
Any company looking for up to date information on the IT Recruitment market can speak to an experienced IT recruiter today on 0845 124 9555
James Toovey is a Director with Langley James, one of the leading consultancies specialising in permanent and contract IT Vacancies. They have offices for IT Recruitment in London and IT Recruitment in Manchester