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Social media: to screen or not to screen?

Social media: to screen or not to screen?

With social media at our fingertips, it’s never been easier to ‘get to know’ a person without meeting them. While more recruiters see it as a useful way to find and connect with candidates, applying social media as a screening tool is more complex.

So, is it ok for recruiters to use candidate social media profiles as part of the screening process?

When it’s wrong

The risk of using social media to screen candidates is that employers can open themselves up to claims of liability and discrimination. While there’s little legal precedence around the issue, this grey area of screening and recruitment could become clearer as the use of social media becomes more widespread.

Some recruiters actively avoid the practice it’s not an accurate representation of how well a candidate can do their 9-to-5 job. Candidates should be judged on their ability to do the role and overall cultural fit not what they get up to outside of work hours, their age, sexual orientation, overall appearance and so on.

Instead, focus on how social media shapes candidates’ perception of your company, and their future, should they join.

Putting it to good use

Generally, recruiters avoid using social media to rule out prospective candidates. But it’s still common for them to explore social media accounts as part of the broader recruitment process, especially now that cultural fit is so important to a lot of companies.

If you have to use social media, use it to gain insight into how a candidate’s interests complement their resume. Use it as a tool to learn things like hobbies, passions and lifestyle.

Proceeding with caution

Illegal activities and anti-social behaviour are major red flags. If a candidate’s social media content is not aligned with your company’s values, you should treat this information with caution.

Another big warning bell comes with inconsistencies on a candidates’ resume and online profiles. Particularly when it comes to their work history and the timelines on their resume while this isn’t used to dismiss a candidate, it’s a springboard to discuss authenticity and the importance of accurate representation on social media.

What do candidates think?

Job seekers actively use social media to research prospective employers. Because of this, organisations are investing more time and resources into presenting a strong online brand. Similarly, job seekers are mindful of how they brand themselves when it comes to their online presence and generally use it as an opportunity to showcase their skills, experience and achievements.

While job seekers are generally savvy about how they use social media, some aren’t informed about its impact. Unfortunately, there are instances where candidates are unaware of the power of their social media presence and how that can be of detriment to their career.

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