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OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS the use of social media has exploded with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest now a part of the daily routine of many persons.

Social media has definitely made its mark on the practice of human resources. Should a recruiter view your social media profiles in evaluating if you are a good fit with the company?

If employed, should your use of social media impact on your job security? Should social media sites be blocked on company servers?


Like everything in life, social media has its positives and negatives. Some companies have blocked social networking sites, such as Facebook, without considering their target audience and the social media presence that they company may have. However, there are legitimate business uses for social media.

LinkedIn is a professional networking website. Here companies can post job openings, and your top executives can leverage their professional contacts. Further, the group function allows access to trade and industry specific knowledge, keeping persons well informed on current trends.

The marketing potential of Facebook is well known and many companies have built loyal followers, and promote activities and competitions via this medium. Using Instagram, companies have heightened product awareness and increased brand loyalty. Therefore each company must carefully consider its social media strategy before determining a stance on its use.


Unfortunately, the positive of social media is sometimes overshadowed by the abuse of it. Most people can identify one person who, once given the opportunity, would spend an entire day playing Candy Crush and not being productive, or the person who is more concerned with reading status updates than updating company documents.

This is where you may find a policy on social media or computer use valuable. Should you not have a policy in place, discipline can still be administered if the employee has failed to effectively perform their duties.

The following tips can assist in crafting a social media policy:

Do not reinvent the wheel; review existing policies on Internet usage, mobile phones and confidentiality.

Consider any industry specific requirements.

Provide clear disclaimers.

Limit personal use in office, and during working hours.

Provide clear warnings against posts or links to materials that are defamatory, harassing or indecent.

Consider issues of confidentiality/conflict of interest.

Do not focus on a specific social media outlet; social media grows and changes rapidly.


For many managers, the existence of online information coupled with the ease of access, is an appealing lure. Once candidates have been shortlisted, it’s tempting to Google them and search the big social media sites to see what comes up. But what kind of information should be considered, and what discarded? The mix of public, private, professional and personal information that can be found online must be used with abundant discretion, if at all.

“Companies must be very cautious when determining (a) if information acquired from the internet is relevant to job performance and (b) where there is a legitimate, and legal, reason to discount a candidate based on what they might have posted online,” – Robert Capwell of Employment Background Investigations Inc. writes in an October 2008 article for Society for Human Resource Management.

Of course, you will question the judgement of a candidate who doesn’t think about how personal postings can be viewed, especially when they have placed them for public viewing. However, the caveat is that the entire person should be analysed.

Look them up on social media, google to see if they have any information online, but also consider what is presented in the interview and what reference checks reveal. In evaluating the information, use your best judgement and seek advice when unsure.

A CNN article of June 6, 2013 titled 10 People Who Learned That Social Media Can Get You Fired, encapsulated how personal and business worlds have converged online. From entries on a personal blog during work hours, to teachers tweeting about drug use and insensitive comments by public figures; it is clear that it is not always possible to hide behind the statement that your social media account is personal.

Under common law, employees have a basic responsibility not to harm the business where they work. It may seem as though the age old concept of privacy is being eroded. However, responsible use of the internet can uncover new opportunities for both professional and business growth.

Therefore each business must carefully evaluate how social media can enhance or detract from its business pursuits and craft a culture that leverages the best that social media has to offer while mitigating its disadvantages.

Sheena Mayers-Granville is  human resources manager, Unicomer (Barbados) Ltd.