Should You Be Screening Applicants' Social Media Profiles?
More and more job candidates are using social media in their hunt to find the perfect job, with LinkedIn taking the clear lead. But as an employer, are you taking full advantage of social media to find the perfect employee?
According to Michael Page, 77% of employers already use social media to find job candidates. If you haven’t started yet though, we have 5 simple tips to help you. However, could social media be used for more than just promotion and searching?
Social media screening involves digging deeper and researching candidates through sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. The process allows employers to find out more about a candidate, beyond their standard 2-page resume and covering letter.
What are the advantages of social media screening?
Social media is a key platform for communication today with more than 2 billion social media users. Although much of the content that is shared on social media is public, only 20% of employers are looking at this during their recruitment process.
Hiring a new employee can be both expensive and time-consuming. Picking the wrong employee will just add to the money and time spent. Social screening can therefore help businesses get it right first time, by providing information which allows more informed decisions to be made. In fact, research from Jobvite shows that 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on the information they found in their social media profiles.
61% of reconsiderations are due to negative reasons, for example, a candidate may have lied about their skills on their application, posted something inappropriate, made negative comments about their previous employers, shared confidential information about their employer, posted about drinking and drugs, or may display poor communication skills.
Social media screening isn’t just to pick out the negatives though. It can also be used in the candidates’ favour, by revealing things that may not have been included on a CV. This could be to their advantage during the decision process. For example, they may have carried out charity work, display strong writing skills or be very creative.
Beyond checking a candidate’s skills to ensure they can do the job proficiently, social media screening can also be used to help decide if a candidate would be a good fit within your team and company culture.
What are the concerns of social media screening?
Before starting social media screening within your business, there are a number of things that you should take some time to consider:
Social media screening raises a number of ethical questions, such as whether employers really should be snooping into a candidate’s personal life and if so, where to draw the line before it becomes an invasion of privacy?
Although vetting a candidate’s online presence is not unlawful, discrimination laws still apply, in the same way as screening a printed CV for example. Recruitment decisions should therefore not be affected by factors such as age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and political beliefs.
Information online may not always be accurate and doesn’t necessarily show the whole picture. It’s therefore important for businesses to be careful about believing everything they read about a candidate via their social media profiles, as it may not be a true or complete reflection of them.
For further advice to help minimise your concerns, the Chartered Institute of Professional Development have created a helpful guide, sharing good practices for businesses to follow when conducting pre-employment checks on applicants.
The answer to whether to carry out social media screening or not seems to be a split one. At the end of the day, the decision is up to you. There are many benefits to your business, but it’s also important to proceed with care, consideration to people’s privacy and caution to possible legal implications.
Do you use social media screening in your business, or do you plan to in the near future? We’d love to know your thoughts on the subject. Leave us a comment in the box below, or tweet us @jobcastnet.
Elizabeth Harmon is a writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She is a Social Media Consultant with a number of years’ experience in the field. She has worked with a growing list of clients around the world, helping to build successful social media strategies, create effective content and much more. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Harmon.