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 Ca­ 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.

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