Is it a Good Idea to Use Social Media to Assist With Hiring Decisions?
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[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 13, 2018 7:15:00 AM / by Michelle Nystrom

Michelle Nystrom

Using Social Media to Help Make Hiring Decisions-What’s the Risk?

Is it a Good Idea to Use Social Media to Assist With Hiring Decisions?With great risk comes great reward is how the saying goes, but does this great risk and reward apply to social media assistance in the subject of hiring new employees? It absolutely does. Social media is mainstream, it is in use every single day and thousands of people are utilizing it in multiple ways. Hiring candidates while utilizing social media has become an ongoing trend that has its pros and cons.

It would be naive to think that ignoring social media utilizations is a good idea in this day in age to onboard potential candidates. It would also be naive to think that social media laws are not serious regulations that every company needs to abide by to avoid potential legal claims. Staying up to date with company trends, rules and regulations, and social media policies could potentially bring outstanding candidates into individual companies.

 

Why Employers are Using Social Media When Hiring

There are many benefits to hiring through social media. Being able to connect with so many people and visit different social media sites can allow you to reach out to a variety of candidates. Being able to connect to different online conversations can allow employers to find candidates simply based on what they talk about on the web by using links or hashtags that may relate to company values or agendas.

It’s Transparent

Being able to connect with employees via social media can sometimes be easier than trying to connect with them in the outside world. People are more likely to share their thoughts and views on their profiles than they would with a bunch of strangers on the street. Therefore, it can make it easier for employers to get a grasp of what the potential candidate is like by viewing their profiles. Companies are interested in image; the image of the company itself and the image of those that work for the company, they go hand in hand. Social media allows employers to see what has been posted on particular pages and see who their friends are which could potentially give them an idea of what kind of person they may be bringing into the company.

Free Job Advertising

Advertising job openings can be a bit costly. However, by utilizing social media to post job openings, companies can save a ton of money. Advertising on social media is free. Therefore, if a company has its own social media channel, they are more than welcome to post ads for openings and list qualifications that are needed to apply. By using hashtags on sites like Twitter, companies can potentially share these advertisements with thousands of people within minutes.

Able to Reach Elusive Candidates

Some candidates don’t have a very outgoing personality. Meaning, not all potential candidates will actually go to the job site and speak directly with management. This does not mean that they don’t want to work for that company, but more passive candidates may just choose to submit an application and not take any further steps to approach anyone in the company. By utilizing social media hiring tools, these passive candidates may see online postings and may want to approach the company via social media. Not only that, but companies can actually reach out to candidates themselves by simply viewing their online accounts and noticing that they reach an abundant amount of the qualifications needed for the job.

Companies can Easily Showcase Their Company Culture

Company websites should be filled with positive messages to help recruit candidates. They should include pictures and videos of company culture to show candidates what it could be like to work for that specific company versus other companies that they may be looking into as well. By showcasing company culture on social media, candidates are able to see how the company carries itself and what their expectations are. This can give that company an advantage compared to companies that do not utilize social media to showcase company culture. Without being able to see how a company runs itself, candidates may not find interest in wanting to work there. Social media can allow companies to be open about what they expect from their employees.

Can Be Faster

A lot of people still wait 5-10 business days to hear back from potential employers. Utilizing social media in the hiring process can help speed things up. By being able to use social media to fact check resumes and conduct minor background checks on employees, employers may be able to find out solid information quicker than waiting on multiple interview processes or even standard background check information. Especially in the case of hiring a potential bad candidate, viewing their social media accounts may be able to get that out in the open faster than having to wait for more information to be gathered and learned.

Leverage Current Employee Networks

By using social media, employers are able to identify talent in their network and field that can potentially suit their company. An employer may already have an employee that shares mutual friends with a potential candidate. This employee may be able to connect with the mutual friend to learn more information about the candidate to see if they are a good fit for the company. By being able to connect with these mutual friends, this may also be a reason that hiring time can get cut in half, because they have good references all around.

 

How do Companies use Social Media to Make Hiring Decisions?

When using social media to hire potential candidates, there are a variety of things to look for. Things like screen names, the amount of content posted, pictures, videos, comments, and personal information all come into play. If any negative commentary is made on the page or things that are posted are deemed inappropriate in any way, that candidate will most likely not get a call from the company with a job opportunity. Seekers are looking for employees with outstanding personalities who are professional and ready to work and share their values with a company. It should also be noted that even after a candidate is hired, employers do often check social media accounts to ensure that a professional image is being well maintained.

 

What are the Risks Associated with Using Social Media When Hiring?

When searching for the perfect candidate, is important to know what steps not to take when looking online for more information on a potential employee. If an employee’s profile is set to private, it is pretty much over from that point in terms of being able to get any information on that person. Many states have laws that protect private information of employees and not all employees are willing to have their profiles public. While using social media to gain more information on a potential candidate it is also important to not develop an accidental bias about that employee in relation to what may or may not be on their profiles. It is illegal to allow a candidate’s race, sex, religion, or other characteristics protected by law to influence your recruiting and hiring decisions.

Is it Legal to Use Social Media?

Although it is legal to use social media to hire candidates, many precautions need to be taken before doing so. It is not legal to request or demand profile information for a candidate to be hired. However, if they have public profiles, employers are allowed to access that information. Using social media to post job openings and recruit outstanding candidates is absolutely legal, so long as it is conducted in a rightful manner.

The Legal Risks of Using Social Media?  

Risks of using social media to hire employees mainly runs on the idea of using social media to advertise job openings or advertising company products. Knowing state laws and regulations to viewing and utilizing information on an employee’s profile mainly helps companies avoid legal risks in that they have violated an employee’s privacy. Employees must always be aware that their profiles are being viewed if so, and they must maintain a file of what they have collected from that profile as well. Other legal risks can include things like advertising the company itself and what it has to offer the public. Companies need to be careful that any commentary that they collect about the company is borrowed from that specific person with permission. If a company posts a product review from someone they can run the risk of violating that consumer’s privacy if they do not ask for permission to post the review onto their website.

Does Using Social Media Cross an Ethical Line?

Social media researching doesn’t necessarily cross an ethical line, but it does have the potential to do so. If someone is conducting a hiring process while using social media, they need to be careful about what they take into consideration. Employers are prohibited by law from considering a candidate’s race, sex, religion, or other protected characteristic before hiring that person. They need to stay focused on job qualifications and company values to ensure that the candidates values match theirs.

The Issues Surrounding Ethics

Social media hiring can be problematic if not utilized properly. It is best to leave the hiring process in the hands of someone who works for HR. They are well trained in what content they have access to and they can avoid any potential legal or discriminatory issues that may arise. It is impossible to know who someone is just by viewing their social media profiles, therefore, it is always best to conduct a face to face interview prior to checking their social media accounts. This can give an employer a better idea of who the candidate is and can potentially avoid any issues or decisions that can be deemed unethical within the hiring process.

Inaccurate Information

It is important to make sure that when using social media to hire a candidate that the correct information is collected. Some social media profiles are created and never deleted, meaning an employer can potentially have access to an old account. This can give the employer the wrong social image of the candidate. Employers need factual and up to date information on their employees, so using an old social media account to collect information may not be the best idea for an employer to do. Sometimes, voice can even be miscommunicated on the web, meaning that it is possible that employers can take some content out of context. Making sure that all information collected is relevant to the job itself is imperative in ensuring that the social media hiring process has been conducted properly and fairly.

 

Is it a Good Idea?

If done correctly, hiring through social media can really be helpful to many companies. It seems economically tragic for a business to assume that sticking to standard ways of hiring can help them find the most qualifying candidates. With so many LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles created and curated specifically for job seekers and finders, the potential candidates can seem endless. However, if conducted properly, using social media to hire candidates can be very helpful to different companies in that they have a variety of candidates to choose from.

 

This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice.  Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.

 

Topics: Managing Employees, Hiring the Best People, Management, Interviewing