Talent Acquisition

Do Recruiters Have the Right to Privacy Online? Cojones!

Yet another session with agency recruiters has forced me to publish a rant! I’m there talking about Twitter and Facebook and a consultant tries to persuade me that the Twitter account he has is private, can only be seen by him and his mates and is protected. He therefore has the right to do what he wants with it. I checked out his LinkedIn profile, spotted the account he referred to, noticed that he had the F word in his Bio (amongst other things) got out my collapsible soap box and… COJONES!

I work with some really lovely clients.  They are all really great people: funny, educated, great company…I really rate the industry.

I have a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Slideshare, blah blah account. I have a nice number of followers. However, I get really fed up when a recruiter tells me they can do what they like on Facebook and Twitter as it’s their personal space – it’s just Cojones:

  • I don’t spill my guts online – I’m a lady!
  • I stick to the positive on my social networks, and tune into the news when I want doom and gloom…
  • I engage with happy, positive people.

I don’t get involved in online chats with people where the content is negative, political or nasty (no matter how close I am to them offline). I value my business relationships, my pipeline and my kids’ futures. When I read negative stuff online I get down (and not in a funky way either!).

You don’t need to spill your guts online to be interesting:

I think I have a pretty interesting life, and I share stuff that I get up to inside and outside of work. I don’t share things that would lead to my clients disrespecting me. I aim to be positive and constructive – rarely negative.

I have a pretty dry sense of humour; which if we met face to face would be coupled with a glint in my eye. You won’t see my cheeky grin / glinty eye online, and negative comments taken out of context will be misinterpreted – I can add a :’) but it just doesn’t convey my approach, so I try to stick to happy, jokey Lisa online.

Recruiters are getting fired because they’re stupid:

I know a lawyer who is currently working with 2 recruiters who have been fired due to their supposed privacy being interrupted by their supposed friends grabbing a screen shot of their supposed private Facebook / protected tweets and publishing this in public. So much for supposed privacy (that Print Screen button is the devil!)

I am sure the “it’s not fair” mantra is prevalent in those homes right now, and who knows they may be reinstated if the tribunal finds that they were unfairly dismissed…but their careers have been interrupted, people have got hurt and all because they were stupid (or perhaps just a little rash and uneducated about how their “private” lives aren’t really private?)

Educate rather than stipulate:

I talk to clients and their recruitment staff every day about the potential outcome of theoretical privacy.  I believe a lack of understanding of online privacy is a massive risk to the recruitment industry for a number of reasons:

  • 60% employers check employees out – Do they really log off when they bump into you online?  Bear in mind that most social media software is built around forcing you to bump into your real / potential contacts, so the likelihood of your clients accidentally finding you is pretty high. Serendipity does not exist online anymore – there are no happy accidents which show you profiles of people – it’s all engineered according to who you know and what you say.
  • Ideas surrounding “views are my own” protecting individuals – Clients and candidates won’t care if they’re “your own” – if your ideas are offensive, they’ll disconnect and move on to a recruiter who does not offend them.
  • Many recruitment leaders shy away from social media – Through fear of a lack of privacy, and this behaviour also leads to a lack of expectation and endorsement of social media. Silly! Your clients and candidates are “on it”.

Privacy online is an education piece – adults need to know the potential outcomes of their behaviour if they’re to buy in to behaving differently and reducing risk to their jobs and the business which employs them. Do the math!

Some cojones solutions:

  • Advise your staff to go “underground” and have a separate Twitter account – This is akin to saying to your staff “yes, off you go and post what you want on your own Twitter page” – Really?!? I rarely see this work, so unless your staff are so secretive that no-one knows them, or they work for Nasa and get how to lock down their profiles, I suggest you don’t bother with this approach, it’s just too dangerous
  • “Views are my own” your bios – Not convinced that this protects your staff – but it does protect the business from lawsuits from suppliers, candidates, clients who may be offended / affected by what they post. But again it does not protect the user / business from a drop in fees if the clients / candidates spot theoretically private content not meant for them that causes harm.
  • Lock down access to social media – ABSOLUTELY, let’s demoralise the workforce and prevent them from using the one thing that their clients and candidates are getting really savvy at in order to protect your reputation. After all, they don’t have smart phones, 3g, wifi, fag breaks, an axe to grind…

So, what’s your plan?

Educating your staff is key to helping them use these systems to deliver their KPIs.  Make sure that they are aware of what their actions could result in and make sure you have a policy that covers you if you want to something drastic.  And please don’t restrict your policy to “don’t do stupid stuff or we’ll fire you”.  You need detail and practical advice not an umbrella statement that is likely to be misinterpreted.

Due diligence:

And perhaps checking them out before they join the business to ensure that they are “on brand” before you get them to take your brand online too.

What’s your plan?

Note: Meaning of Cojones (in case you’re not bi-lingual like me! 😉

By Lisa Jones

Lisa Jones is a Director at Barclay Jones, a Consultancy working with recruiters advising them on the most effective use of technology, web and social media to improve their business processes, recruitment and bottom line. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaMariJones.