Face it, more and more hiring managers are admitting that they will look at a candidate’s social media profile at some point during the hiring process. And why shouldn’t they. There is a lot of valuable information to be gleamed from a candidate’s electronic footprint. A lot has been written about some of the pitfalls and problems with using this data, so I won’t hash over it here. My focus is on 9 things you should consider if you are going to adopt a strategy of using social media (social intelligence) in the screening process.
- Screen in a consistent and uniform manor – make sure you follow the same process for everyone you are screening. Don’t follow a random process of only checking up on people you think may be hiding something or may have some secret life you think you should know about.
- Screen the same sites for everyone and maintain the list of sites you screen – determine which sites you think are the most relevant to look at (Linked In, Quora, Spoke, Twitter, etc) and don’t alter the list just because of the candidate. In other words – if you feel like Facebook is really a social environment without much relevant job information – don’t suddenly search it for the candidate that has a funny tattoo.
- Pre define the types of information you are screening for and the criteria used for screening – This is a KEY point: You are looking for relevant, work related information only. You probably don’t need to know about someone’s partying habits, but you probably do need to know about threats of violence, hate messages against minorities or ethnic groups, a pattern of disparaging comments about previous employers, or misleading information about their college degree.
- If you don’t plan to screen everyone, be clear and consistent about what groups you are not screening – like all background checking, social media is not that different in a case like this. You don’t have to screen all job categories, but be clear (and document) why you screen some and not others.
- Have a neutral party do the screening to avoid hiring manager seeing protected data (age, race, religion, health conditions, etc.) – The fundamental point here is – if you are going to look at data on a social media site – you will see more than you need to. To avoid that risk – use a third party that will filter out that data.
- DO NOT friend an applicant – this is fraught with all kinds of problems. Not only does it provide you access to information you do not need to know, it opens up all kinds of issues with privacy, harassment, etc.
- View only publicly available information – most of what you need to know can be found in the public data. No need to ask for an applicant’s access or password, or to friend or “connect” with them to see additional data.
- If you use social media data to reject an applicant, point to clear, legitimate hiring requirements for reason to not hire (e.g. poor judgment) – your reason for not hiring someone should be sound. Enough said. Social media data is no exception.
- Gain applicant’s consent – it really is a good idea to follow the same notice and disclosure policies you would with any pre employment screen. Let the applicant know you will be checking their social media footprint and gain their consent.
Using social media in the hiring process is a very real and very valuable tool. Be aware of the issues involved, consult legal advice to help you set up your program and feel free to contact us at Tandem Select. We are leading the way.