Like it or not, social media has become a major player in both conducting a job search and searching for new employees. In a 2013 report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), they stated that 77% of organizations were using social media in their search for potential employees. That study was 4 years ago, so it is likely that the number is much closer to 100% at this point.
While there are many advantages to using social media to find potential employees – it’s convenient, you get to see another side of the applicant, you get to view a wider group of potential candidates, including some who may not have come to you otherwise, and you get to advertise your open positions to a much broader group of job seekers than you could with past methods – there is a downside that HR needs to be aware of.
Not Everyone is on Social Media
It’s a bit hard to fathom in this technological age, but there are still people who refuse to use any type of social media. For instance, my husband has never used social media, doesn’t have an interest it in, and likely wouldn’t have a clue of where to start if he wanted to investigate what the fuss is all about. But if you wanted to know who won the Super Bowl or the World Series in any year, just ask him, he’ll know (do not ask him to pick up milk after work because he will, consistently, forget that).
There are other highly experienced, knowledgeable, and highly-skilled people who, like my husband, do not want to use social media. This means that recruiters are eliminating some very qualified applicants when they rely solely on social media for sourcing potential employees. Some recruiters may even wonder what an applicant is hiding by not showing a part of who they are on social media. Recruiters and hiring managers need to know that excluding people who do not have a social media presence is essentially another form of discrimination.
Speaking of Discrimination
Scanning social media to pre-screen applicants can provide a recruiter or hiring manager with some valuable information that is good to know before a job offer is made. If a job applicant is making racist remarks or posting vulgar material on their social media pages, they may not be a good fit for your company. Likewise, a recruiter needs to ensure that they are not using this medium to exclude certain protected groups. During my recent job search, it took quite a while before I even got a call, leading me to wonder if my age had anything to do with the lack of responses.
The reality is, recruiters may have prejudices, that they’re not fully conscious of, so they need to ensure that they’re not eliminating applicants based on their race, sex, sexual orientation, or age. Employers can eliminate this risk and possible legal exposure by only scanning social media sites after an interview, but before a job offer is made. This will ensure that they are basing their decision on experience and qualifications first and foremost.
Do you think that you have ever been discriminated against due to something on your social media site(s)?