Social Media in hiring - You can run but you can't hide

Are last Fridays party and the not-so-great decisions that came along with it going to influence if you get your dream job or not? Well the truth is it could. The use of social media in hiring is something we all need to think about. It has made our lives increasingly public and Human Resources personnel know all about it. As a general rule I think we do act quite differently on our personal time than we would on a job, so it is quite unfortunate (it sucks) that we have to be the first generation that has to deal with extra screening tools during applicant selection; nevertheless, given the fact we now know this is our reality, we better buckle up and protect our professional selves from our mostly-less-mature social media selves.

From Google to different social media such as, Facebook, Myspace, and Linkedin, among others, the typical 21st C applicants have made their lives increasingly and willingly public.  According to the Print Measurement Bureau (PMB) (2010), 59% of Canadians use two or more forms of social media on a monthly basis; more importantly, 77% of the 18-24′s are social media users (that’s most of us guys!). In other words, within the Canadian reality of an aging workforce, these findings mean that around 80% of future employees will have a public and personal profile online of some form.

Without a doubt, because of the high costs associated with a bad hire, whether it is a full time, part-time, contract or flexible job, employers have increasingly turned to social media when assessing an applicant. While employers are increasingly pressured to investigate and choose the right candidate, legal regulations and restrictions (such as Section 18.2 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) bound them from seeking certain information from prospective employees in most cases; yet, because there are no privacy laws in place in Canada concerning the use of social media as a pre-employment screening tool, more and more employers have found this type of assessment an extremely valuable one. In fact, according to (2013) in 2011 91% of employers reported using social networks for screening candidates; “76% using Facebook 53% Twitter and 48% LinkedIn. And while we have fabricated our LinkedIn page to depict the best of ourselves professionally, many of our pictures or comments in other more personal social media platforms cannot say the same.

So what should we do? Well my proposed solution is not super great, but it is something. While some of my friends have decided to change their last name in pages like Facebook to “hide” themselves from Recruitment and Selection consultants, this solution may be temporary and risky. If a Selection specialist somehow finds two different profiles pertaining to you, well right-of-the-bat you come across as more sketchy and give the impression that you have something to hide; in the end, comparing someone’s pictures in two profiles, like LinkedIn vs. Facebook, in order to identify someone’s identity is not THAT difficult. The one solution I could give you is limit what you post and how much you post about yourself on social media and not just for recruiters, but for your own privacy safety in general. When we first started using social media I don’t think most of us thought about the implications it would have for us outside our little fabricated profile. So I think it is safe to say that while we don’t mind what our Friends see on our profiles we probably do mind what strangers can see. We need to start realizing just how public our profiles are, regardless of our privacy settings, and that sometimes, some things need to be kept private, and what those things are, is up to you. Until there are privacy laws protecting us from what HR professionals can look up on the Internet during hiring decisions, we need to play it smart.

Written by Samantha Padilla; HR support at

Views: 110

Comment by Tim Spagnola on February 10, 2014 at 12:58pm
Interesting topic Vera and one that can be taken in a number of directions. In fact we have a very interest social media/HR dilemma taking place at my organization now. Needs to still play out, but certainly post worthy when all said and done.

The reality for me is that I just don't have the time to run due diligence in reviewing candidate social media channels. Who does? Does anyone feel privacy laws will ever come into play? As a social media user I have conflicting options on this whole topic, but in the end folks just need to be smart and think twice before the post. It really is the only solution that appears to work.

Enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing on RBC.


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