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.

LASHRM 2014 Snippet: Don’t Talk About Diversity-Show Me Diversity

In just a few days, I will descend upon Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a speaker for the Louisiana SHRM State Conference.  My session is entitled: Get Real About Your Good Faith Efforts- What The OFCCP Really Expects From Employers. Some of the most significant changes in OFCCP guidance will take place this year. Federal contractors everywhere are frantically watching every webinar, attending every breakfast meeting and are quite handsomely paying employment lawyers to help them comply with the new regulations.

I could have addressed the new regulations and spelled them out in plain English to the best of my ability, but you all know by now I don’t do the status quo.

My hope for this session is much bigger and broader.

Yes, the new regulations are onerous, but have you asked yourself why? I have heard so many practitioners carrying on about how these new regulations are not achievable and how the federal money they receive in return may or may not be worth the hassle for what the government wants from us.

Newsflash: There is a rich history of how all of these regulations came to be. Each of them delegated out as executive orders by the presidents of the time due mostly to the injustices being experienced by women and minorities in the workforce. These new regulations- are yet another instance where regulation was needed to decrease the numbers of differently-abled and veteran applicants that have recently been discounted, ignored or outcast by employers in recent years.

It amazes me- that until now, most federal contractors and even regular companies slap an EEO tagline on their website and put up a few stock photos of an Asian, African-American , someone in a wheelchair etc. all for the value of giving the appearance that they value diversity. I say if you truly value diversity, let me see your C-suite makeup.  Let me see your employee ecosystem; more importantly- let me see your outreach efforts also known as “good faith efforts”. Some other considerations, are you paying everyone based on a consistent and logical model? How about hiring? How far do you go to ensure a diverse applicant pool?

I suspect that the OFCCP and government are just as tired as I am of companies doing the bare minimum to appear compliant. They are essentially saying to each of us federal contractors- don’t talk about diversity; show me diversity.

I present on Monday, April 7th from 10:30-11:45 am. Attendees will leave my session with an alternate way of approaching these guidelines, good faith efforts and hopefully diversity within their organizations.

I’m looking forward to a spirited conversation on this topic- as well as  engaging with all of the attendees. If you cannot make it, please follow the #RealGFE session hashtag on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to check out the #Czarinatravels hashtag to keep up with my travel adventures.

Want more hashtag craziness? Follow #PICHR, #ePIC, #LASHRM14 and #goodfaith to follow the conference and all associated events.

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