Social Media: A Useful Recruiting Tool?

Social media has become a popular way for job recruiters to announce job openings and find qualified candidates for those opportunities. An article from OpenForum.com approaches the issue of whether or not you should search social media sites for job candidate information. Author Sharlyn Lauby writes with the question, “If a candidate applies and you don’t know a lot about them, should you do a little detective work via social media?”

Recruiting and legal experts had a few remarks about when it is and is not appropriate to search social sites for the down-low about applicants. Some pointers offered include understanding the purpose of your search and focus on knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Understanding the purpose of your search is very important. From a legal standpoint, there are limits to delving into an applicant’s person life. To determine if your search is relevant, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Why do you want to use social media?
  2. What information are you hoping to find?
  3. Is the fact that an employee uses social media a bonus or a demerit?

Just because a wealth of knowledge is available to you does not mean that it will make your decision making process any less complicated. A person’s private life is very different from their social life – what happens on vacations and holidays are not what is going to be happening at their desk. If you choose to investigate an applicant’s social media presence, make sure you’re seeking information for the right reasons. Keep it simple, and keep your searches relevant to your purpose.

“The only information companies should be researching is information that is pertinent to the position that the individual is or could be applying for,” says Heather McGough, a staffing consultant for Microsoft. “This could include blog forums that are related to job expertise, Facebook fan pages that are devoted to one’s applicable skills, and information regarding job history on networks such as LinkedIn.”

Now, what about during the interview? When it comes right down to it, a candidate should be assessed upon their qualifications for the position. If you come across something strange on the applicant’s Facebook page, never ask for access to their site or passwords – that simply crosses the line. Employees and applicants should be aware that their information is accessible and take precautions with privacy settings.

Even when interviews go well, there are still situations that can arise after the candidate is hired. If a situation does come up, be sure to keep it cool and restrain from overreacting. Unless the information has direct¬†relevance to the employee’s job performance, it should be left alone. The exception to this would be if the information is related to a lack in employee performance or could negatively impact your organization – and careful decisions about taking action should be assessed by your HR department.

Social media is an excellent way to spread the word about your company, announce job openings, and connect with potential future employees. Use it that way, not to spy on or eliminate candidates. Review a candidate’s resume and/or application for job history, qualifications, accomplishments and skills — that’s how you will find the best candidate.

As a talent manager, or recruiter, it’s ultimately up to you whether or not you will use social media as a tool in the hiring process. Be just, be fair. Originality and interests are what make for well-rounded employees. To read the full article, click here.

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