Social media is no longer just a place to post pictures of salads and Tweet at celebrities.
Whether you intend to or not, your social media profile can be an extension of your personal brand and give outsiders a glimpse of who you are, making it an effective, accessible tool for hiring managers to assess candidates.
And hiring managers are taking full advantage, a new survey from ResumeBuilder.com shows, with 74% of hiring managers saying they check applicants’ social media. Here’s what they’re looking for – and essential considerations for any HR pro who wants to go snooping on social media.
What they’re looking for
According to the survey, over half (55%) of hiring managers use social media to ensure a candidate is a good culture fit. Other reasons included:
- To look for illegal activity (45%)
- To satisfy curiosity (34%), and
- To see if the candidate is invested in their career (29%).
However, not all hiring managers have the purest intentions with their search. In fact, some hiring managers who view candidates’ social media admitted to checking for information that would be illegal to ask in the interview, such as:
- Political activity
- Gender identity
- Disability status, and
- Marital status.
Sixteen percent of hiring managers report they “always” do this, while 38% said they do it sometimes.
“In my years of recruiting, it is mostly at smaller companies where people are not properly trained or don’t have proper oversight, that you see illegal questions being asked during the interview process,” Stacie Haller, chief career advisor at ResumeBuilder.com said in the survey report.
“They ask me questions about candidates, which would be illegal to ask directly to a candidate and are discriminatory in nature, in hopes to find out information about a candidate that is not at all relevant to their ability to perform well at the job. I have to inform them that these questions are discriminatory and often illegal.”
Eight in 10 hiring managers (84%) have passed on a candidate due to what they’ve found, most commonly for unprofessional behavior or illegal activity. Nearly one in five (19%) reported passing on a candidate due to their age.
How to handle social media screenings
Screening a candidate’s social media can be a simple way for hiring managers to get the full picture of a candidate. In the end, it can save time for the candidate and the company.
But social media can harbor a lot about a person’s life, and certain details can create unconscious bias in the hiring decision and can lead to legal trouble for your company due to discrimination claims.
There can be a way to balance using social media to find valuable information about a candidate and using it as a way to obtain information that can’t be asked in an interview. Here are some tips to keep social media checks effective and fair:
- Allow someone uninvolved in the final hiring decision to screen social media for any illegal or otherwise unacceptable behavior
- Create and document a process for screening candidates’ social media to keep everyone on the same page and back up hiring decisions, and
- Provide regular training or coach hiring managers to ensure that they stay legally compliant.