Beware pitfalls of social media in recruitment
SOCIAL recruiting or using social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, as a screening tool for recruitment may not be as beneficial as it initially appears.
A study by CareerBuilder.com found more than half the recruiters surveyed used social networking sites to conduct background checks. Additionally, of the screened applicants, half were excluded due to information discovered online.
More and more employers are using social networking sites as a screening tool. Although it may appear appealing to busy recruiters, enabling them to save time, access previously unavailable information about candidates and screen applicants without them being present, there is limited evidence demonstrating its effectiveness.
Employers should be aware of the pitfalls before dipping into the social media waters.
Social media has increased the potential depth of screening to include searching for information about applicants online, which may be information they do not wish to reveal or have no control over.
While it is legal to screen applicants via social media, it can create an unconscious bias. Social media displays data that was previously unavailable to recruiters such as gender, nationality, age, family status, political and religious views or sexual orientation.
Invasion of privacy and discrimination are two major legal and ethical consequences. If an unsuccessful job applicant can make a plausible case, then it is up to the employer to demonstrate their reason for appointing someone else was not unlawful discrimination.
A growing body of evidence shows social recruiting is no more advantageous than traditional methods. While many people believe that information found online will predict an applicant’s performance, a 2018 study in the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology shows there is no empirical evidence to support this.
In fact, there are limited best practices guidelines around social recruiting. To protect employers and to ensure transparency, here are three suggestions.
First, adhere to Australian laws such as the Privacy and Fair Work Acts.
Second, set parameters for using social networking sites for recruitment. This includes establishing how, when and why social media is used.
Third, remember there is no verification process for the accuracy of information on social media. Anyone can create a profile and anyone can edit it.
A safe way to protect oneself is to meet applicants faceto-face and ask for written consent to use social media to validate information provided by the candidate.
If you are using social networking sites to screen applicants — or considering it, then weigh up the pros and cons and ask yourself how it benefits your recruitment process.