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Social Media Recruiting: Pitfalls and Mistakes to Avoid – Part I

9 February 2016

There is no doubt that the exploding growth of social media has significantly changed the way people communicate today – both personally and professionally. Not only has social media changed the way we communicate, but these applications present great opportunities for businesses in the areas of public relations, internal and external communications, recruiting, organizational learning and workplace collaboration. In the not-so-distant past, recruiters and staffing managers pored over resumes, posted vacancies on job boards and hosted expensive job fairs to find candidates. Today, savvy recruiters and hiring managers are learning to tap into the increasingly large talent pool that spends time on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (among the few of too many platforms to name). However, the use of social media in recruitment carries legal risks unique to the social media environment, and here are a few things to consider in part one, of a two part series … the pitfalls to avoid!

Be Out There – Be Connected – Engage – Beware: To remain competitive, organizations that have not yet migrated their recruiting programs to social media should explore social media as at least one component of a broader strategy. And, as recruiter, hiring manager and job candidate – you want to be out there – you want to be connected – you want to engage! This, however, can work as a double edged sword for job both the job seeker and the hiring manager, as inferences can be made about the candidate (and the organization) from their online profile(s) or google searches that may subject them to unfair scrutiny or bias.

Believing There is No Liability:  Now, more than ever, job candidates are inviting employers to view their profiles on both mainstream social networking sites (like Facebook), and more professionally oriented social networks (like LinkedIn), hoping the information will help hiring managers see a more “complete” view of the “true you” beyond the resume and cover letter. That said, it is now commonplace for employers, recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate the profiles of prospective employees as part of their social media recruiting strategy, and the information they find can (and does) influence the decision making process. Companies should “proceed with caution”, as candidates have sued organizations they believe had denied them a position based on the content posted on their online social media profiles. If you decide to not hire a candidate after viewing the profile, even if the reason is legitimate, simply having viewed such protected information can leave you vulnerable to legal risks. Your legal department can provide insight on navigating potential issues in using social media tools and applications in the hiring process – and help establish clear guidelines for interacting with candidates online.

Believing That Social Media Recruiting Can Replace Interpersonal Interaction: Many organizations make the mistake of believing that social media recruiting is a cure-all for their hiring needs. Social media efforts should enhance – not replace – one-on-one communication, especially outreach to potential candidates through networking events. The quality of a candidate’s interpersonal skills are of the utmost importance to any organization – even in “non-customer-facing” position. The ability to communicate with others, and add value to the team within the organization, are job candidate attributes high in demand. As a result, hiring managers need to understand how an individual will mesh with the company (and its culture), and there are attributes an employer can’t accurately evaluate on a social media platform.

In today’s reality – people share everything and anything they find worth sharing on their profiles, perhaps not expecting that it (in the eyes of a hiring manager or recruiter) may be a deciding factor as to whether he or she is a worthy candidate for a vacancy. Such information, known through the social profile of the candidate should not be made to be “the reason” to deny him or her the job, or the interview! Be sure to stay tuned for more invaluable information when it comes to engaging job candidates through social media – Social Media Recruiting: Pitfalls and Mistakes to Avoid Part II.