Trying to pretend that employers do not use social media sites to ‘check out’ potential candidates is a bit like trying to push the squeezed out toothpaste back into the tube – It is pretty much impossible at this point in time!
We live in a social media construct that is continuing to develop. It is definitely time that we become more diligent in shaping how HR Professionals should be using social media effectively for purposes of employment and applicant screening.
Lyndsay Wasser, co-chair of the privacy group at McMillan LLP, provides a well-balanced approach to the benefits and risks of using social media in this context.
Ms. Wasser certainly identifies the risks related to using social media searches, if they are not done properly. If we are snooping around on social media sites, without explicit candidate knowledge or consent, this could be extremely problematic from a privacy and/or possible discrimination perspective. More practically, if we do not have consent to access information gained through social media, we cannot use it anyway. So, why bother snooping?
If we are going to be using social media for employment screening, let’s use honesty, professional judgement, and be transparent about it. As Ms. Wasser points out, there are definite benefits to be gained through employer driven social media searches, such as assessing potential candidates for insight into their good judgement, professionalism, and whether or not there is any misrepresentation on the part of the candidate that might be revealed through their social media profiles.
It seems only fair that this type of assessment should apply to conscientious employers as well.
- As an HR professional, how will you inform potential candidates that their social media profiles may be used for purposes of assessment during the applicant screening process?
- What types of social media sites do you think are inappropriate for an employer to access?
- Do you think there is a benefit for including social media scans for purposes of employment screening for all candidates? Why or why not?
- What types of social media sites do you use to assess potential employers in your own career or job search?