Like promoting your business to potential customers, using social media to recruit employees seems like a no-brainer. LinkedIn was specifically created to help users maintain professional connections. And, if almost a billion people are using Facebook, then why not use the site for finding potential employees?
On one hand, having access to these sites has the potential for introducing your company to so many more qualified applicants than a traditional employment ad in a newspaper. There are concerns about using such sites, however.
David Wilkins, Vice President of Taleo Research, a talent management consulting group, warns that sites like LinkedIn and Facebook might not necessarily represent of the overall candidate pool. Taleo Research found only five percent of African Americans use LinkedIn, which is less than half of the U.S. African American population. LinkedIn users are also slightly older than those who use social networks like Facebook and Twitter. “If you rely too heavily on these social approaches, you are looking at challenges of discrimination on the basis of age, race and more,” Wilkins said.
Diane Pfadenhauer, President of Employment Practices Advisors, also warns that viewing someone’s Facebook account before making a hiring decision could pose a risk of lawsuits: “You may find something [on their Facebook profile] that is a protected characteristic like their religion or sexual orientation — something that is not visually apparent. Even if you don’t use it as a basis for employment, people may accuse you of that.”
Accuracy is another concern Pfadenhauer said, so she encourages business owners is to "Google with caution." Just because you find a profile or information with your applicants’ name doesn’t mean it’s true, or even the actual person you are searching for. “An Internet image can be created, corrected and fixed,” she said. “Make sure if you are doing a background check it is with a legitimate company that has insurance.”
Recently, a trend began as employers started asking potential employees for the passwords to their social media profiles as a condition of employment. This has caused some states to introduce legislation, which would make it illegal for potential employers to invade an individual's privacy in such a way.
As we continue to adjust to the influx of personal information being shared in this digital age, having access to social media sites for recruitment purposes seems like both a blessing and a curse. How does your company handle using social media sites in relation to potential employees?