Online social networking – costing UK companies £6.5M AND as unstoppable as gravity?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008 - Employment, Google CV, Legal, professionalism, Social Media, social networking


Online social networking

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From the recruiters stand point, I have watched the debate on online social networks with some interest…..

  • It’s the bain of corporate life – sucking precious hours from the day, and distracting employees to a 24hr water cooler conversation
  • It’s an essential of modern life – as much part of life as texting, pop music and fast food
  • Digital footprint

    For the recruiter, its a godsend! As this article suggests, ANY employer who now doesn’t Google all applicants is missing out on essential information. I interviewed a guy a few months back, who on his CV and a few background checks seemed a 10 out of 10 applicant – however, his MySpace page suggested he enjoyed a regular joint and the odd bit of white powder: oh, and an active social life at the local swingers club.

    I personally still believe that all should have the right to a private life, and what goes on behind closed doors/in the bedroom is your choice as a consenting adult. But if you plaster it all over the web, what would you do if you were the employer?

    I pointed out to my interviewee that there was much information on him in the public domain, and much as though drugs were more acceptable and part of modern life, the employer I was searching for as a result of their customer contract required all employee’s and hence applicants to under take a drug test on application, and then after at the customers behest. This generally meant that applicants would need to be drug free for at least three months prior to the test, bar the odd joint trace element – could he make that standard? He understood the requirement, and withdrew his application.

    I think employers blocking social networks is quite a childish and naive manner in which to address something which is quite essential to the lives of those under 30. I remember when internet access first became widely available to all employees in my former corporate employer, and they introduced a “key word” blocker which meant that (for instance) search strings associated with sex were blocked. My innovative group of engineers found that searching on related words they found in Roget’s Thesaurus allowed to still access such sites – not that they wanted to, they just wanted to prove it could be done.

    Today, the number of young people coming into the market is reducing, due to a highly decreased birth rate. Hence, employers wanting new recruits need to take broader attitudes to attracting and retaining employees – cellphone bans in entire campuses, lunching at desks (because there’s no where else to go), and bans on social networking sites all add up to signs of an oppressive/control freak employer. Getting employees to recognise the problems of ringing cellphones to customers and their work mates, providing some form of rest area or access to online entertainment/education, advising on monitoring of networks and expecting employees to only use social networks and MSN messenger during break times – are all signs of an employer trusting employee’s to be adults and make sensible choices. Happy employees attract more happy productive employees, and put recruiters out of a job (Ha – if only! Its interesting to think I have a job because of a low birth rate, and people wanting career development…)

    So, back to the debate – is social networking “As much part of life as texting, pop music and fast food” and something “We can no more prevent them than we can prevent gravity. So we might as well get used to using them effectively.”

    Good Luck!

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