If you are hiring, you should not overlook the importance of vetting prospective employees through social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 70% of hiring managers said they had used Facebook or other social networking sites to research job candidates in 2018, up from 60% the year prior. Also, 11% of hiring managers said they planned to start using social networking sites for screening.
With so many people posting their lives online, employers can learn a lot about candidates. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to look at the social networking profiles of prospective hires.
Employees in sales, public relations and customer service serve as representatives for the companies they work for, so employers have a legitimate interest in ensuring potential workers won’t embarrass the company.
The most commonly checked social media accounts are Facebook and LinkedIn. Some employers even search for blogs or look at a candidate’s Twitter account.
The search can pay off for the employer.
More than half of employers (54%) in the CareerBuilder survey reported finding content on social media that had caused them not to hire a candidate. But also, many employers reported finding positive things on someone’s social media accounts that had helped them decide to hire the applicant.
Top Reasons Found on Social Networking Sites for Considering a Job Applicant:
- Profile provided a good feel for candidate’s personality and fit within the organization: 50%
- Profile supported candidate’s qualifications: 39%
- Candidate showed creativity: 38%
- Candidate showed solid communication skills: 35%
- Candidate was well-rounded: 33%
- Others posted good references about candidate: 19%
- Candidate received awards and accolades: 15%
Top Reasons Found on Social Networking Sites for Passing Over a Job Applicant
- Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information: 53%
- Candidate posted content about drinking or using drugs: 44%
- Candidate bad-mouthed prior employer or clients: 35%
- Candidate showed poor communication skills: 29%
- Candidate made discriminatory comments: 26%
- Candidate lied about qualifications: 24%
- Candidate shared confidential information from prior employer: 20%
Don’t overstep – Be warned, though. There is a fine line of overstepping when looking at candidates’ social media pages. Here are some tips:
Be fair – Review every applicant in the same manner. If you investigate one applicant’s social media accounts, you should look at every applicant’s accounts. This is to avoid the appearance of discrimination.
Never ask for access to an applicant’s accounts – Demanding passwords could violate a multitude of different laws (a number of states have passed laws barring employers from demanding username and passwords for social media accounts), and could also put the applicant in violation of the terms of service of most of the major social media sites.
In other words, any review should be limited to public information.
Keep it timely – Complete searches later in the hiring process, and preferably after an offer of employment has been made. That sounds counter-productive, but if you learn that an applicant is a protected class by virtue of a social media search, unconscious bias steps in, and you will be in a more difficult position should a discrimination issue arise.
As with any other part of the hiring process, document everything that is done, including saving screen shots of social media pages reviewed.