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PEO Advice on Social Media in Hiring Practices

Jaime Moore
by Jaime Moore on April 4, 2017

social-media-in-hiring-process.jpgAs you know, social media is part of mainstream life. Nearly everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, especially those who might be looking for a job. Studies show companies have taken advantage of that exposure by utilizing social media in hiring practices.

It’s common for employers to post available positions on social media. And while it’s proved to lead to successful business relationships, it’s not the only way. If employers use social media in the hiring process, it’s also best to make sure to advertise the position somewhere else, too, just in case a potential candidate doesn’t have access.

In addition to publicizing job openings, employers can also use social media to confirm a candidate’s qualifications. However, some employers have backed off this method for fear of legal trouble. It’s not hard to understand how trolling social media can lead to discrimination accusations. 

Just by looking at a potential candidate’s profile picture, an employer can learn his or her gender, ethnicity and age range. And that’s just the beginning. Think of your Facebook feed. What do people most often post about? Certainly medical or family problems. What about a rant about politics? Social media can teach you a lot about a person, but it’s not supposed to be information that is used against that person in the hiring process. Do you review candidates’ social media profiles? Here’s what you need to know about social media in hiring practices:

  1. Have HR do the checking. Make sure the person who looks up potential candidates on social media is someone who works in HR, rather than a manager or supervisor.
  2. Look later. If you’re going to check a candidate’s social media page, it’s best to do it later in the process, after an applicant has already been interviewed. That way, many of his or her protected classes have likely already been established (without asking). Looking later could also avoid the perception that what you see is the ONLY reason you didn’t hire someone (even if it’s one of the reasons).
  3. Document your reasons. If you see something on social media that prevents you from hiring someone, such as bad judgment, print the page with the content that led you to that decision. That way if something is removed later, you’ll have proof to back your choice.
  4. Stay consistent. If you’re going to look at one person’s social media profile, look at all the profiles of potential applicants.
  5. Consider the source. Focus on the candidate’s own posts. Don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what other people say about the applicant on social media.
  6. Never ask for passwords. The law in many states says employers may not ask for potential candidates or current employees’ social media passwords. In all states, asking for an applicant or employee’s password creates a risk of violating the federal Stored Communications Act.

When it comes to social media in hiring practices, make sure your practices are organized, fair and consistent and document your findings, whether positive or negative. Looking for more expert PEO insight on how to choose the best candidate for the job? Check out our free resource, The Employer’s Handbook for Avoiding Hiring Mistakes.

Are you asking illegal interview questions?

Jaime Moore
Jaime Moore

Jaime Moore is a Brand Journalist for FrankCrum. She has more than 10 years of experience in journalism, writing and communications. Her focus is on writing about the challenges small businesses face. In her spare time, Jaime enjoys vacationing in the mountains, watching movies and spending time with her children.