The importance of social media policy in recruitment is growing day by day. The rapid advancement of technology and the penetration of social media into all areas of our lives require the effective use of social media in recruitment as well. However, the use of social media in recruitment also carries some risks. For this reason, the determination and adherence to social media policy in recruitment is of great importance.
According to an article on Monster.com, a social media policy defines how candidates’ social media profiles will be reviewed in recruitment and how this information will be incorporated into the decision-making process. This policy defines what the employer is looking for and not looking for when reviewing social media profiles. Information obtained from a candidate’s social media profile can put an employer at risk of legal problems. Therefore, employers need to be careful about learning protected class information about a candidate.
For example, a candidate’s social media presence may provide information about a disability. If the candidate is not hired and then alleges discrimination on the basis of this disability, the employer’s best defense is that they did not know about the candidate’s protected status at the time of the decision. However, if you learn this information on social media, this defense is lost.
Your social media policy should also specify the types of information that can help you make hiring decisions. Items such as negative posts about past employers, materials related to drug abuse or criminal activity, posts that demonstrate a lack of judgment or ethics, inconsistencies between social media posts and other information provided by applicants, and information that demonstrates the desired qualifications (e.g., honesty and professionalism) can be considered in the hiring process.
After you have defined your social media policy, it is important to develop a strong process to support this policy. This may include determining which social media channels to check for valid information and which ones not to check. For example, some social media sites contain work history or project portfolios (LinkedIn serves as an online resume and reference network), while others are more geared towards sharing photos of friends and family.
If you have enough staff, you may want to consider adding an independent review layer to strengthen your candidate review process. This could be a person who is not otherwise involved in the hiring decision, who can review social media profiles for items defined in the policy and provide written feedback to the decision-maker. This could be part of the general reference check process.
This report could include issues such as red flags about behavior or lack of information supporting the resume. For example, social media information that directly contradicts the candidate’s resume could be a major red flag (however, context is everything, so you’ll want to do more research before drawing any conclusions). It should definitely not contain any information about protected statuses.
Keep What You Learn in Context
Speaking of the importance of context, not everything you can learn through online profiles is necessarily relevant to a person’s suitability for a job opening, but it could be. This is why it is so important to keep what you find in the right context when you are implementing your social media hiring policy.
For example, you may be hiring someone for an important role that requires international travel and the ability to interact with people from various cultures. If a candidate’s social media profile shows a genuine interest and respect for other cultures, this information could encourage you to move their application to the next step. However, derogatory comments about a certain ethnic group or nationality are likely to be a red flag.
By digging a little deeper, you want to make sure that the comments or posts attributed to a specific candidate are actually reflecting their views. This can put you in some complex situations, but be sure not to unfairly eliminate someone based on what you see.
In particular, information shared by people other than the candidate may not be the best indicator of what the candidate is like. For example, something that could be considered a red flag may not be coming from the candidate; it could have been posted by someone else or they could have been tagged by someone they don’t know.
Use Social Media for Your Hiring Needs the Right Way
As you can see, creating a social media policy for hiring purposes allows you to use this powerful tool without crossing into dangerous legal territory.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, who is a well-known figure on this topic, says the following about the role of social media in hiring: “Social media has revolutionized hiring. We now evaluate candidates not only by their resumes, but also by their online identities. However, this means that employers need to respect candidates’ privacy rights.”