Those who seek employment want their social media profiles to reflect a professional and positive image. But the reality is that what’s posted on TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook is fair game. Researchers compared resumes and social media profiles of job applicants. The findings revealed red flags, such as religious and political affiliations and information that can be legally prohibited.
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Conducting a Screening
Whether they cringe at their old Myspace page from the early 2000s or keep in touch with their aunt on Facebook, most people have some social media presence. Some use LinkedIn, X, TikTok or other platforms to promote their professional work and build their brand; others use these sites for personal reasons. For many employers, a person’s social media profile provides valuable insight into the candidate’s character, personality, and potential fit for a role.
However, it’s important to understand that these platforms provide only a glimpse into a person and often don’t accurately reflect the full context of their life or personality. Additionally, it can be difficult to assess a person’s honesty and reliability through their social media profiles, as many candidates may lie about aspects of their background to make themselves seem more attractive to an employer.
In addition, social media screening can also expose companies to legal risks, such as discrimination claims. It’s therefore essential that any company undertaking this type of screening takes several steps to minimize risk, including educating personnel on best practices, using specialist tools, limiting the scope of the search to relevant data and only checking profiles once a candidate has been invited to interview. It’s also advisable to record the screening process and to treat applicants fairly at all times.
Identifying the Right Candidates
Social media has provided employers with an invaluable tool that can help them identify and hire the right candidates. By analyzing potential employees’ social media accounts, employers can validate the information they receive during the interview process and gain additional insights into a candidate’s personality and work ethic that may not be apparent in an initial job interview.
Furthermore, it can also help to identify red flags in a candidate’s profile that can indicate a potential problem with their behavior on the job or a risk of not fitting into the company culture. For example, if a candidate frequently complains about coworkers or gets riled up over political disagreements, they might not be the best fit for your team.
Lastly, it is important to note that many questions asked during a social media screening should be job-related and remain non-discriminatory. Therefore, it is important to develop a set of questions to help guide the social media screener in their search for relevant information about candidates.
However, it is not just LinkedIn that can be used to screen candidates – other platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram are also useful tools in this context. Additionally, brands can leverage other public sources of information, such as blogs or designer portfolios. Furthermore, by scanning public conversations that candidates have with their network or around the internet, companies can better understand a candidate’s personality and work ethic.
Developing a Screening Strategy
A useful method for evaluating job candidates’ qualifications is social media screening. However, it must be balanced with legal and ethical concerns and done fairly. Employers should develop clear procedures and standards, educate personnel on best practices, use specialist tools, emphasize job-related criteria, record the process, and treat applicants respectfully and fairly.
In doing so, they can make informed recruiting selections consistent with their company’s values and objectives. Delving into a candidate’s social media profile allows recruiters to see facets of their personality and behavior that might not be evident from a resume or interview.
It can also uncover information suggesting a risk factor, such as if a candidate posts inappropriate content or shows intolerance toward others. It can be particularly important for positions requiring high professionalism and trustworthiness, such as those dealing with sensitive information or vulnerable populations.
Social media can also provide a window into a candidate’s network, allowing recruiters to gain insight into their professional circles and potential sources of referrals. It can be beneficial for determining a candidate’s suitability for the role and ability to work with other team members. It can also reveal a candidate’s professional engagement and ability to keep up with industry trends.
Managing the Screening Results
While social media screening provides insightful information for hiring decisions, it also presents several challenges. For instance, it can be not easy to differentiate between a candidate’s personal and professional views. Additionally, missing information posted long ago can be easy and may not reflect the candidate’s current opinions or behavior.
It can result in a misguided decision. Moreover, using social media for screening often violates candidates’ privacy rights and is invasive. It’s true regarding sites like Facebook and Instagram, which are designed as personal relationships platforms.
For example, if hiring managers see that an applicant has participated in free-speech political activities, partied with colleagues, or otherwise engaged in risky behaviors on their social media profiles, they may reject them for those reasons even though those opinions and behaviors are unrelated to the job.
Furthermore, if an employer uses social media in the hiring process and bases its decisions on factors such as age, race, sex, religion, or physical disability—all protected categories—it could face discrimination lawsuits. Therefore, if an employer decides to use social media for screening, it should do so cautiously.
Employers can mitigate some of these risks by using social media screening to supplement their overall candidate evaluation. By following best practices, they can ensure that their screening is fair and complies with legal requirements.
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