Effective Use of Social Media in Hiring


Image: Gainsville GazetteWith the rise of social media, businesses have access to more information than ever. Online platforms offer so much potential for a company; including valuation of current clients and customers, reaching new and emerging markets.

Employers are also using social media to investigate the profiles of job candidates, which opens a door to many human resources issues—both good and bad.

The use social media as a hiring tool for employers is a trend that will undoubtedly continue. Of course, with any new technology, there is the room for abuse. Instances have been reported of prospective employers requesting Facebook passwords, so they can explore personal profiles for offensive content. Hopefully, these incidents will remain a rarity.

Intelligent corporate policies, which effectively use the services of relevant information from social media, such as collaborative projects on sites that are available publicly, will increasingly be used to determine the best qualified candidates.

Some of the best practices for human resources departments to incorporate social media in the pursuit of new talent:

  • Use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) such as ApplicantPro, iCIMS.com and Ovation Technologies to streamline recruiting efforts, which allows human resources departments to spend time getting to know the best candidates in person, over the phone or videoconference.
  • Influence and expand the pool of talent – even for small and medium sized companies, there may be over 10,000 unique connections through employee networks that can be used as a strategic advantage to find new hires.
  • A majority of talented candidates are out there, actively looking for the next big opportunity. Networking is a high priority to this group, and they tend to communicate with each other frequently. Take the talented employees already have on staff, using them as the template for your next good hire.
  • Social media presents an opportunity for an employer to scout out “passive employees,” those employed workers that look to change careers, if the right opportunity comes their way. Top positions are rarely posted on job boards, and job seekers—employed and on the market—participate in various professional communities. Social media can be an excellent way to search for talent that may not be found through traditional means.

Companies have to be constantly aware of restricted categories of information used in the selection process. Then again, a web search on an applicant exposes many types of information, including information deemed protected (such as race and gender), so using this information can be potentially dangerous.

It is a slippery slope to assess candidates’ entirely on social media properties.

Much is made in the media of the rare company that asks for personal social media info, such as Facebook login passwords. Fortunately, this is proving to be an outlier, especially in light of proposed legislation to ban the practice.

What is more, the process of searching candidate’s social media activities is time consuming and cumbersome, especially when comparing several candidates. For those on the job market, the result is a chilling effect as what to put up on their own personal network of friends and family.

This is a unfortunate precedent, since fostering reluctance to openness goes against the positive externalities provided by social media.

Society, including employers, should embrace the open expression of ideas—the place where innovation is born.

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