Screening Applicants Using Social Media: What You Need to Know

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Almost everyone uses social media, but should you use it in your recruitment process? Many recruiters are turning to social media to help solicit applications so it makes sense that those same individuals would then use social media to screen those applicants.

In a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, 2,380 hiring and human resource managers were polled regarding their usage of social media in screening applicants. Of those polled, 70% used social media to screen candidates before hiring them, a percentage significantly higher than in years past.

However, since the laws and regulations surrounding social media and the workplace are still evolving and being established on a case by case basis, it can be risky when using those outlets for employment screening.

When using social media to screen applicants, make sure to adhere to a process. You will want to continue to adhere to employment legislation and avoid bias. To help you as you go through this process, read the following tips to help you avoid any legal risks.

Know the Legislation

Using social media to screen candidates can be tricky since using certain information (race, gender, approximate age, ethnicity, religion, etc.) gathered from those sites could lead to discrimination in the hiring process, which is against the law.

To avoid discrimination through social media, make sure you know the laws for equal opportunity employment. Having a solid grasp of these laws can help you avoid any missteps. If you have still have questions, consult an attorney that is well versed in employment law.

For a list of state legislation regarding social media usage, check out this list compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Establish a Consistent Process

To avoid bias and discrimination, establish a protocol for social media screening. For example, screen all potential candidates at the same time and in the same way in the recruiting process (i.e. after their first in-person interview, checking Facebook and LinkedIn). Evaluating candidates at the same time in the process and via the same social media outlets helps keep the evaluation fair.

You can also take it a step further and assign someone unrelated to the position to screen candidates. Having someone who is not associated with the role or hiring decisions can keep bias at a minimum.

Document Efforts

Keeping a record of your searches can help if any questions arise concerning your use of social media employment screening. This is particularly helpful if you find something that makes you eliminate a candidate due to their social media presence like unprofessionalism, bigotry, etc. Print or save a screenshot of the questionable content to have on file should legalities ensue.

The Takeaway

Ideally, a candidate’s social media presence will simply reinforce their resume. However, as evidenced by recent events, employees’ social media presence can be very different than what they present in an interview or at the workplace. Screening applicants via social media can be helpful in finding a candidate that is the right fit for your company and the position for which they applied as long as you continue to follow employment regulations.

Head Shot (538x800) Rachel Stones

Author Bio

Rachel writes on a variety of HR related topics for Built for Teams an HR Software Solutions Provider for Mid-Size businesses. Built for Teams is brought to you by the developers at Objective Inc.

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