Screening Applicants Via Social Media: Yea or Nay?
by Taryn Barnes
In this digital age, technology rules all realms of our world and the HR sector is no exception. Now, more than ever, it has become easier to find information about potential employees even before performing a background check. Using social media to screen applicants is a practice that appears to be gaining traction, but is it a wise exercise? Let’s talk about the pros and cons of social media screening.
Social media gives a better insight as to whether or not the employee is right for your company
Screening applicants gives you firsthand knowledge on whether or not a potential employee will fit into the company culture. For example, you just had a very successful interview with a prospective candidate. They said all of the key things and look great on paper. Doing well in the interview is only part of the process. At times it is beneficial to do some research to see if they are who they say they are. This is where social media screening can tip the odds. On one hand, you may find that the candidate is very socially conscious and volunteers frequently. In fact, 19 percent of hiring managers found that social media helped them hire a candidate. On the other, you may find that an applicant uses social media to badmouth their current employer or that they’ve embellished their qualifications. Either way, social media gives a better insight as to whether or not the employee is right for your company.
Using social media to screen applicants can have legal implications if you are not careful. According to The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other numerous anti-discrimination laws, employers are not permitted to base their hiring decisions on protected characteristics, including an applicant’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender or disability status, for example. In addition, based on this 2014 CareerBuilder Survey, over 50 percent of hiring managers passed on candidates due to their social media accounts. Let’s not forget about how employees may feel about the practice. Employees may feel irked upon finding out that their employers snooped through their social media accounts so it’s important to tread lightly.
Bottom line, the accessibility that social media brings is a tempting way to gain information on potential employees. The insight could help you find the perfect employee or help you steer clear of a bad hire. That said, with great power comes great responsibility. Employers who adopt this practice should heed anti-discrimination laws and keep an objective scope. It’s best to not dig too deeply and to stick to the things that are relevant to the workplace. While social media screening may not appeal to everyone, it is a viable option for those who want to pursue it.
How about you? Would you use social media to screen applicants? Why, or why not?
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