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Do Recruiters Know Too Much About Their Candidates?!

With the estimated cost of replacing a member of staff at over £30,000 per employee do recruiters need all the candidate information they can get?

If Mark Rutland, played by Sean Connery, in Hitchcock’s Marnie, had had the internet he needn’t have employed Marnie just to find out what was lurking behind her mysterious exterior. He could have Googled her.

Arguably Marnie’s web presence would have been negligible, given her penchant for shifting identity, but the gaps in her work history, not to mention her non-existent social life would have sounded some alarm bells.

Mark Rutland might have been an adventurous playboy businessman, but for most employers the cost of hiring the wrong man (or woman) is too expensive a risk. According to a report released earlier this year by Oxford Economics replacing a member of staff costs a staggering £30,614 per employee.

It seems only natural then that recruiters would take the opportunity to vet candidates using all the data at their disposal; with the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) claiming two out of five recruiters conduct online searches. But is the recent European Court of Justice’s “right to be forgotten” ruling, where search results an individual says contains information that is “irrelevant, outdated or otherwise inappropriate” are omitted put employers at a disadvantage?

No sooner had the law come into practice than Google reported receiving 41,000 requests to be forgotten. One fifth of the applicants wanted to delete a digital footprint concerned with serious crime, others fraud or scams, while 12% were connected to child pornography arrests. This should be a concern for recruiters, right?

Possibly not. Employment lawyer Philip Landau, writing for The Guardian, considers restricting access to candidate information a good thing for recruitment: encouraging a back to basics approach to evaluation based on skills, qualifications and experience; and an emphasis on relevance.

Back in December the CIPD published a report advising employers to develop a clear policy towards the use of social media in their recruitment process. The body advised against unfettered ‘trawling’ of social media sites; emphasising the application of discrimination laws, vetting transparency, the right of candidates to respond, and, ideally, a limitation to social media intended for professional purposes – namely LinkedIn.

Indeed transparency and the relevancy of information used in the hiring process is at the heart of Business in the Community’s (BITC) Ban the Box campaign. BITC are calling for an end to the ubiquitous check box disclosure system for those with unspent convictions; and for those criminal histories to be considered only when relevant to the specific role.

Following the EU ruling Google has announced its intention to flag up search results it has censored; and insert an alert at the bottom of each page where links have been removed. Whether or not the controversial ruling goes against the interests of recruiters it seems the time has come for the man who knew too much.