Using Social Media to Screen Job Applicants

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Check someone’s Facebook page? Follow them on Twitter?  “Google” their name and see what comes up….

Of course! Why wouldn’t you? Hiring someone takes time, it is stressful and sometimes feels like a crap-shoot, why wouldn’t you use every tool available to you to get as much information about a candidate as you can?

Because if you do, you risk basing your decision on unreliable, sometimes skewing information, and at worst, leave yourself open to a discrimination charge.

Yes, hiring the right person is hard, it takes time. But you are also adding valuable assets to your business and should be done right, consistently.

Use reliable sources when getting information on a candidate. Always ask for references, personal and professional and call them. Always call their last employer and supervisor, unless the applicant has specifically told you not to. They may still be employed and do not want their current employer to know they are looking. If they are asking you not to call previous employers, ask why.  

That IS a red flag.

Many larger employers tell managers to never provide any information other than to confirm the person’s employment, date of hire and departure, maybe rate of pay and that’s it. But sometimes, you may get a manager or supervisor willing to give you a little more. I know I have, and I was most appreciative. Now this can be risky to – make sure the information, if particularly damaging, is based on fact and not perception or opinion or confirm that it is. At least this is first-hand information and not something you dug up on the internet.

The problem with getting information from social media is it is usually opinion and not complete. You do not know that their Facebook page actually belongs to the person on whom you are trying to get information – pictures included!

If you are going to use social media as a way to screen candidates, be consistent. If you are going to do it for one, do it for all. Check all the same sites, be as thorough with them all. And absolutely set a standard on what you are going to consider deal-breakers and not, and why. Is the information you find relevant to the job they will be doing? Could it at all affect your business and why do you think so? And base this on objective reasoning, not just because it might, or you think it might. And get help. If you do this under the guidance of a staffing agency or some other employment professional, an attorney with employment law experience.  

While you might think that the information you get from social media is gold, it might be fool’s gold. You don’t want to miss a good candidate for invalid reasons, and you certainly don’t want to discriminate against someone for something you “found on the web”

Our legal team frequently serves as an outside resource to clients’ managers or human resources staff, providing counsel and advice regarding day-to-day HR or labor relations issues. If you have questions about labor and employment law, contact a labor and employment lawyer in Belgrade, MT, like the ones at Silverman Law Office, PLLC.