Should You Check Candidates’ Social Media Profiles?

June 4, 2018 By: Dave Rietsema
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Social media has become a window into the worlds of its users. People showcase their daily activities on social media, which can give others insights into their perspectives, personalities, values, habits, and skills. With this in mind, many recruiters have decided to analyze candidates’ social media profiles as a step in the hiring process, looking for clues that may indicate how well a candidate will fit into the company culture.

Analyzing social media profiles shouldn’t be seen as a magical recruitment solution, however. The practice may not be practical for every company and may not yield useful information. While analyzing social media profiles may be a smart recruitment step for some companies, it should be done carefully and may not be the right answer for every company.

Decide Whether Social Data is Relevant

A company’s reputation could be affected by what its team members post online. For companies that rely strongly on their reputations to generate business, it may make sense to do research to make sure that potential team members perpetuate compatible values and skills – particularly when hiring for positions that will be in the public eye.

If employees will operate behind the scenes, it may not be as important that their private persona resonates with the company culture. While it may be tempting to research social media profiles to get a feel for a person’s character, it’s important to determine whether it’s really necessary.

Consult Legal Experts

Before adding social media profile analysis to your recruitment plan, even on a trial basis, be sure to consult legal experts so that you don’t inadvertently break any laws. Social media profiles can reveal information deemed to be protected, such as race and gender, which can potentially put your company at risk for discrimination allegations.

Legal experts will be able to advise you on the best strategies for using social media analysis in recruitment, if you decide to go that route.

Request Consent before Browsing

Before researching a candidate’s digital footprint, request consent. This will let your candidates know exactly what you will be looking at and why, so that they don’t feel their privacy has been breached or that their trust has been violated. Draft a consent form and make it clear that this is part of the recruitment process from the beginning so that candidates aren’t surprised.

Begin Research with a Plan

Reviewing candidates’ social media profiles without a plan will be ineffective. Figure out what you’re looking for and which social sites you will be reviewing ahead of time so that the analysis is quick and pointed. Create a worksheet for hiring managers to fill in when reviewing social media profiles so that the recruitment tool is used consistently.

Use Information Wisely

While social media profiles can give insights into a candidate’s character, they don’t tell the whole story. People may try to make themselves look bolder, more leisurely, or more worldly than they actually are. Carefully select the information that is extracted and make sure to use that information as only a small part of the hiring process for best results.

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