There are many similarities between the market research industry and the recruitment industry. People’s desire for “privacy” i.e. to control what information is shared and with whom is extremely challenging. In market research this is all about preferences, data, private information and in recruitment this is related to personal and professional work history, pay and related private information.
The Data Protection Act is all about protecting privacy and data. In addition, specific regulatory bodies are there to help ensure that information is managed appropriately. The Market Research Society (MRS) represents the market research industry and the REC, (Recruitment & Employment Confederation) represents the recruitment industry. These bodies are helpful however much of our private online data is still managed loosely on the basis of trust.
This is clearly not enough to prevent abuse and in response to this dilemma, the Market Research Industry has just seen the launch of a new body called “Fair Trade” (www.fairdata.org) to support participants in market research and help consumers recognise quickly who they can trust to hold their information.
Unfortunately the recruitment industry is a bit behind and needs to follow rapidly.
Whilst the REC is viewed as an ambassador for the industry and thus always strives to set the standard, membership is voluntary and the recruitment industry still has issues with regards to management of personal information and restriction. I am not talking just about recruitment businesses, but the recruitment industry as a whole. Social media has played an important part in this.
Despite the clear code of conduct issued by the REC, many job seekers who work with recruiters, still experience mismanagement of their personal data, with some recruiters ( either in house or recruitment businesses) sending out their private details to the world at large, just after a phone call and basic email. Occasionally their cv is sent out to companies via a third party, in order to boost new business without the individual being informed of where their profile is actually going. Surely this is breach of trust in every sense of the word. There must be a way of managing this properly.
Files are not always kept up to date, with online job site users gaining access to a broad number of personal profiles and cvs. Personal information could, quite possibly, be downloaded and stored for any length of time.
At the moment there are still gaps in the way the recruitment industry addresses some of the concerns of job seekers, employers and agency recruiters. Currently the REC only works on behalf of recruitment agencies or businesses and does little to advise and assist workers to manage their intellectual property and personal information across various social media platforms. It is essential that people are taught very quickly, how to ensure that the same principals of trust and data management which are used in the recruitment agency environment, are employed across the industry as a whole and particularly the online arena .
Twitter and various social network sites continuously challenge the way we are able to manage our own data. For example LinkedIn, which is currently free at the most basic level, encourages people to put down their entire work history, their contact details and even more personal information such as date of birth, and details about academic qualifications. Whilst many of us may not be concerned about this we cannot always be sure that our personal profiles are kept away from less trustworthy individuals. Online banking, for example, asks people for their date of birth or where they studied as part of the online security process, this information can sometimes be accessed via linked in or facebook.
Facebook is continuously updating its user profiles and privacy access and now specific targeted advertising appears from the sites you have most recently visited and are displayed across the right hand side or top of your home page.
Everyone talks about LinkedIn. Currently LinkedIn achieves revenue from paid advertising, however you can see that there will be some major developments over the course of the next 24 months which will completely transform the way LinkedIn is accessed and how information is stored.
Twitter is a great tool for many companies who want to raise their public profile however there is a limit to how to prevent the reverse occurring. Confidentiality and intellectual property is being continuously compromised.
Where will this all go?
Who knows. I myself am a fan of many of the opportunities that LinkedIn and Twitter create, especially as a tool to reach markets that have been, near impossible to access. The world is moving faster than ever and in order to protect our personal data, independent bodies need to step up to the mark quickly and focus on what is important and critical over the course of the next 24 months and how to protect the individual job seeker even further than just within recruitment agencies. The alternative is quite frightening and we could see a surge in cases of abuse and misuse which in turn could create an even bigger risk to our recruitment industry.