Using Social Media Smartly Whilst Hiring

26th March 2013

With a number of obstacles to overcome when using social media to source and screen candidates, some can find themselves labelling it not worth the hassle. But when done correctly, it can be a very useful tool for giving more of an insight into your candidates.

Many recruiters and hiring teams are worried about discrimination charges when using social media for hiring, with the online channels presenting employers with information that may not have been privy to by the candidate’s choice. Profiles will show otherwise withheld information from an application including nationality, religion, age, marital status and more.

Eric Meyer, a partner in Dilworth Paxson, says that the pitfall is using protected information in making an employment decision, whilst Allyson Willoughby encourages employers not to “do anything different with social media” than a normal interview. Using somebody outside of the decision making team to screen candidates is a great way to avoid potential discrimination.

Checking candidates’ backgrounds via social media must be subject to the applicant’s permission, in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Another problem is that LinkedIn and Facebook (the most popular tools for recruiters) don’t accurately represent an applicant pool. Research suggests that social media platforms have lower percentages of minority ethnicities than are in the population. Employers must widen their searches by using other means including print channels and job fairs. Making strong notes about equal opportunities is a must when conducting a job search.

Recognising that they “may not have the right to get the information they are looking for without the employee’s permission” is essential to staying on the right side of the law, comments Peter J. Gillespie.

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