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.

A Business Curse Word For The Ages: Diversity

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

 

I’ve spent the better half of my career immersed in work environments that had to keep a watchful eye over things like diversity & inclusion. The work felt like something I should be proud of — seeing as though it is predicated upon providing equal opportunity to people who have often been outcast based on everything from race to physical disability. At the same time that I was busy being proud, I found something interesting among my HR peers and other internal partners. This interesting tidbit was: Nobody “really” cared about diversity and inclusion.

Sure, we had several funded and active programs to quote, unquote “level the playing field”. We met regularly to look at how we were making strides with our Affirmative Action Plan and goals. For good measure, our leadership would even make it their business to make a very poignant and seemingly genuine speech at our African-American Affinity Group Scholarship Dinners or our coveted Black History Month Celebrations.

Still, very few in the organizations I’ve both worked for and heard about via the anecdotes of similarly-situated colleagues truly cared about diversity. It could be read between the rolling eyes, I witnessed when white hiring managers were forced to pull together a competitive slate of candidates instead of hiring their friends or others from their network. It was evidenced, when in one company I worked for — the administrative pool was 80-90% white and left us consistently having to answer to our partners in the Diversity Group about why we could never manage to hire more people of color with such high availability and capability numbers.  It became blatantly clear that no one cared, when even in HR, people of color were better educated and had stronger backgrounds than the bulk of the white professionals working for the company – yet we had to consistently answer to these people who had no clue. The disdain, jealously, and surprise oozed as I watched my white counterparts half-smile or as others call it “smized” with wonderment in their eyes as I spoke up for myself in meetings. The kind of “who hired her, she’s so articulate and smart” looks, but I digress.

I spent over 10 years in HR and really never met a person that wasn’t of color who truly cared about Diversity. Scratch that, even people or color gave up on the promise of diversity in time when they realized the purported efforts never matched the actual outcomes in real life. It in turn made me want to fight for the people I served more. It is the reason that I not only revived the otherwise defunct, African-American Affinity Group at my last job, I also ran and got elected to President in the group while working in HR (which had never been done and was frowned upon). When it came time to work with a national organization to help reformed youth who ended up in the prison system and I knew it was simply a superficial endeavor on the part of my then-employer — I raised my hand to manage the program. There were no shortage of hurdles I had to overcome in getting these stellar gentlemen hired for a program that was allegedly supported from the top. Oh, but somebody tell me again about how ‘diversity’ is so important.

Somebody, anybody share that statistic we have all run into the ground about how teams and organizations are more “innovative”, “productive and “profitable” with a diverse team and leadership behind it. Now that I have effectively left “The Matrix” that is Corporate America, I see why both the concept and application of diversity is troublesome for so many companies and the people that run them.

Here are some thoughts and questions I have:

1)  When we really break down why any diversity, inclusion and or anti-discrimination laws exist we must automatically return to the root cause of it all which is the anti-color sentiment on which the U.S was built and continues to run (a.k.a slavery, Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, Mass Incarceration of POC etc.).

2) If it is truly part of the founder or CEO’s moral and ethical fabric to have an “appreciation” or “love” of all human beings and their unique contributions, why do you need a group or department or a law to guide your efforts to not only include all human beings; but see that they are given a  a fair chance to be hired, developed and afforded equal access to opportunity?

3) How is it that companies have Affirmative Action Plans that get diluted and minimized to quotas in which they hire just a few POC, females etc. to appear diverse enough to keep their government contracts; but still leave some cushion for the latitude they crave to hire their golf buddies, neighbors or family members (who possess little to no requisite skills)?

“Diversity” is like a curse word in business. What it screams to CEOs is that you cannot just hire people who walk, chew, think and look like you. For the most part, they all want clones of themselves at every level of their company and the only time it even strikes them as plausible to look beyond themselves is when they can’t find the acumen they need to be profitable in their sea of clones. You shouldn’t have to be coerced or convinced to hire someone different if you are truly for all people. Diversity meetings shouldn’t have to happen every week or every month if you genuinely care and champion it. Moreover, the government shouldn’t have to regulate how you do business by dangling the carrot of money in front of you to not discriminate and provide equal opportunity. The fact that all of the practices I just mentioned are so pervasive, let’s me know that less of you care about diversity than you are willing to admit.

Before you go building that new diversity program or hiring that new Director of D&I, I would highly suggest you think about why they are needed in the first place.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with my friend, Mark A. Dyson host of The Voice of Jobseekers Podcast along with another friend, Chris Fields, Owner of Resume Crusade. We discussed many of the double and triple standards I discussed in this article. If you are interested, take a listen below and share your thoughts in the comments. We appreciate you!

Why Self-Auditing Matters

Courtesy of Flickr.com

Courtesy of Flickr.com

 

For you among the crowd that have been involved with audits whereby an infraction was found and you had to pay up- it cuts deep. It stings even worse when in hindsight you recognize that you weren’t proactive and missed something that has now cost the company money. The ultimate question from the top will always be:  “how did this happen?” How will you answer: “I don’t know”, “I’m sorry”, “It was a mistake”. Mistakes happen. However, when your mistakes are preventable and they cost your company money that could have been used for other endeavors-HR is going to take some heat and rightfully so.

Take a small to mid-size business (SMB) for instance. You are a business that makes a specific coating for tanks used by the US Military and your federal contract is worth 2.5 million dollars. You have other clients too and they keep you solvent, but this federal contract keeps you afloat. Now consider this: you have not run a pay equity analysis in a few years. As such, one of your mid-level employees has just had a compensation discussion with their boss that turned ugly and in return alerts both OFCCP and DOL of discriminatory compensation actions. You (HR) receive a notice from DOL asking for your entire compensation history for the past three years. Their review of females and minorities corroborate the narrative supplied by your employee- which leads to an onsite audit. Over the course of a year, they find there are plentiful pay equity violations that result in a fine of $700,000. Ouch! Fines of this magnitude can sink a business or at a minimum leave an indelible wound.

Do you remember the Astra-Zeneca DOL Settlement of 2011? Women were found to make at least $1,700 less than their male counterparts doing the same job at AZ. 124 women were awarded a $250,000 settlement. In return, AZ promised to review pay practices and fix any problems.

Could Self-Audits have helped Astra-Zeneca?

Yes. Had they been reviewing their compensation policies and practices regularly they would have seen issues warranting attention and revision before this became a class-action lawsuit. Self-auditing or mock audits can save you and the company from hefty fines, awkward conversations and/or having to close your doors.

Here are some tips on implementing self-auditing as a practice:

  • Depending on how often you can expect to be audited by outside agencies, set up an internal audit schedule.
  • Create an internal audit team to review your practice against your policy and procedures. Where possible, it is ideal to have someone outside the group being audited conduct the audit for objectivity purposes and for a fresh pair of eyes.
  • Summarize findings and create a threats and opportunities analysis to see where you need to improve. “Threats’ in this context would be items that are inconsistent with your policy and violate the law. “Opportunities” are areas where you do well in complying with policy, but there is potential for violating the law.
  • Get your team involved. Ask them to conduct their own random spot checks. This holds everyone accountable for the consistency of following procedure and allows you to get ahead of potential issues.
  • Train your team on communication during an audit. Saying the wrong thing or too much during an audit can be detrimental your success. Ensuring that each of your team members understands what to expect and how to respond can be helpful for when they are faced with a real auditor.

When it comes to your business, ignorance isn’t bliss. Don’t be afraid to self-audit. It is far better for you or your peers internally to point out your faults than any regulatory agency. Become informed about where your fall short and tighten up your practices. You will thank yourself and the executive team will thank you for saving their money.

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