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The morality of using social media as a recruitment tool

March 21, 2015

 

Apparently I’m the one person who doesn’t use Facebook. I did for about a year, seven years ago but I found I just didn’t care enough about what my  ‘friends’  were doing or commenting on and  it was such a dreadful time waster for me. So I quit and deleted my account and have never looked back.

 

So now as an HR Manager I’m forced to consider if I should use social media to assist in my recruitment and selection processes. Up until now I have not used it and yet I’ve had a pretty high success rate with appointments. I’ve used a variety of risk mitigation strategies for the organisation and done my due diligence before appointments and used my gut instinct a lot, but I haven’t viewed people’s social media profiles up to now.

 

Should I or should I not?? If I do, at what point in the selection process should I do this? Which social media sites should I look at?

 

People contend that Facebook isn’t private so looking up a profile is legitimate, which is true but what are you looking for? If you are just looking through photos and comments what makes a person someone you might interview or not? Everyone has biases, some conscious and some unconscious and if you are someone whose main job is not recruitment, like many hiring managers, how will you even know what your biases are?  As an example, what if you are an employer and personally violently opposed to animal killings and you have a look at a candidates Facebook profile and they have some photos of themselves out hunting feral pigs. Might you suddenly feel differently about this person even though they may seem like the most qualified person for the position?  In this case what they do in their private life should have no bearing on how they perform their job.

 

If I was a candidate what would a prospective employer learn from looking at my LinkedIn profile?  That I don’t have a huge number of contacts and that I subscribe to a number of HR and leadership groups. It does say I’m engaged with my profession because I comment on discussions but that’s about all, so again, why bother?

 

Most people these days are aware of the privacy settings on social media applications and you would be unlikely to see much information anyway so you are only likely to see what they want to be public anyway.

 

What about if someone doesn’t have a social media presence – do recruiters consider this to be strange and make them biased against them for some reason?

 

According to the  Understanding the Role of Social media to Complement Attraction Strategies White Paper by Robert Walters, when hiring managers were asked if they had ever rejected a candidate after viewing their social media profiles and “25% of hiring managers said they had. More than half, at 59%, believed the candidate didn’t suit the culture of the organisation, 18% due to inappropriate comments or photographs, and 9% due to inappropriate comments about a current or previous employer.” When they were then asked if they believed it was fair that “social media is used to make judgments on a candidate’s ability to do a job, 50% of employers and 71% of professionals said no.”

 

I reckon I’m going to stay old fashioned for a bit longer. Seems to be working OK for me for now.

 

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