Hiring Managers Won’t Give Up on Social Media Screening

Social Media

Attorneys may frown and talent acquisition specialists may shake their heads, but most hiring managers check out the social media profiles of job applicants.

Specifically, 71% of American hiring decision-makers believe that looking at social media profiles is an effective way to screen applicants, according to Harris Poll survey commissioned by the staffing company Express Employment Professionals. Almost as many, 67%, say they use social networking to research candidates. More than half of those found something that caused them not to hire an applicant.

Lawyers can be as nervous as they like, but hiring managers won't give up on checking candidates' social media profiles. #HR #HRTech Share on X

The numbers aren’t surprising. In 2015, 93% of employers said they checked out applicants on social media, according to Workopolis. Seventy percent of the employers surveyed by CareerBuilder in 2018 said the same thing. 

Social Media – Yes vs. No

“I do believe social media is a good screening tool to see how the candidate communicates with others in an informal setting and also as a way to screen for potential red flags,” said one staffing executive. He added that such screening should be used along with other screening tools, such as resumes and references.

Another executive disagreed. “I have many friends, family and acquaintances who I would absolutely screen out for a position by looking at their social media profiles,” she said. “But I also know they have been incredibly successful in their careers.” People use social media “to express ideas, beliefs and behaviors they would never take into the work environment,” she believes.

Job seekers who don’t maintain an online presence are at a disadvantage, the survey found. Some 21% of hiring managers said they’re not likely to consider candidates who don’t have social media profiles. That’s low compared to other measures—the CareerBuilder survey found 47% of employers wouldn’t interview a candidate who wasn’t online, for example. Employers say such invisibility leaves the impression a candidate “has something to hide,” according to Business News Daily.

Attorneys say that relying on social media screening puts companies at risk of discrimination lawsuits. For one thing, managers and HR are sure to encounter the kind of protected-class information that can’t be used in hiring. Tread carefully.

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