Recently released figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that unemployment has risen by a massive 70,000 – leaving 2.56 million people looking for a job. Contrary to these figures more companies are hiring today, while the government continues to create initiatives to get people out of the unemployment line and into work.
According to a report by Trademark Productions, up to 37% of employers confessed to vetting potential candidates through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The majority of these employers (65%) are looking to see if you are professional or not, while others want to see if you would be a good fit for the company.
HR departments are encountering other issues with social media, and for Liz Strama of HRProtected.co.uk, the need for clearly defined policies is becoming increasingly important: “Social media has grown to such an extent that it has woven itself into the very fabric of our lives. It affects employers in every type of industry and has become a grey area in employment law. For that reason, it is absolutely vital that every company has a policy on social media that is clearly defined and understood by employees.”
The media has been littered with examples of people who found themselves out of work following an indiscretion. For example, half a dozen members of the Metropolitan Police Service were sacked following a three-year campaign of posting ‘offensive’, ‘intimidating’ and ‘unacceptable’ content. But Liz thinks that there are more subtle cases that need addressing, “clearly those who post offensive Tweets are lacking in common sense; but where the real issue lies is with the younger generation who miss out on entire careers through poorly censored social profiles.”
People in the hospitality trade have been fired for complaining about customers, some have been given their marching orders for criticising the company they work for, and others have been sacked for being caught out after calling in sick.
One schoolteacher was fired after posting semi-naked pictures of herself on her social media page and discussing taking drugs with a student, while another was sacked after a photo was posted to her Facebook account of her sitting in a bar with a bottle of beer.
“The example of the two schoolteachers highlights just how opposing the reasons can be, and why people need to be so careful,” explains Liz. “Yes, it is down to the individual to employ diplomacy at all times, but they also need to know what is and what is not acceptable from their employer.”