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How to properly use social media to screen employees

Most companies now use social media research to screen job candidates and learn more about them before interviewing or hiring them.

About two-thirds of employment managers use LinkedIn to screen candidates’ professional background, and a similar percentage use Facebook or Twitter to screen for personal information shared by candidates.

Those are legitimate tactics because social media provide public information that has been posted by the candidates themselves. However, prospective employers and recruiters should be careful and ensure that their online vetting is thorough, fair, and legal.

Social media reveals pluses and minuses

On professional social media sites, such as LinkedIn, hiring managers can view additional career-related information, compare candidates’ qualifications with those on their resumes and view connections with industry colleagues. If discrepancies are discovered, businesses are within their rights to dismiss candidates for misrepresenting their background.

On personal social media sites, such as Facebook, prospective employers can look for a positive attitude and good communications skills, which could tip the balance toward a decision to interview. On the other hand, hiring managers might reject candidates, justifiably, because they have posted comments or photos determined to be unethical, racist, sexist, immoral or profane. Companies might also decide to reject candidates for substance abuse or frequent criticism of others, including previous employers.

Social media traps to avoid

But HR managers should observe several cautions when using social media to screen candidates:

  • Be sure you have identified the right person and not someone else with the same name.
  • Don’t search social media for information on someone’s race, gender, national origin, age, religion or disability. Those are protected categories by law.
  • Safeguard yourself from a discrimination claim by having someone outside the hiring process do the social media screening.
  • Treat everyone the same. If you screen one candidate’s social media accounts, do it for all of them.

An employer who feels a candidate could be a good fit for a position, but has mild concerns regarding his or her social media posts, should address the issue during the interview. The candidate might have an explanation that the employer would find acceptable.

Many people don’t realize that their social media activity can affect their job search, but half of companies that screen with social media report they have rejected candidates based on their online activity.

At TriStarr, we can help you screen candidates by doing background checks, providing personality/behavioral assessments, and conducting initial interviews. Our employment specialists—in fields including finance, technology, human resources, marketing and sales—can assist you, whether you must fill a full-time position or need temporary administrative staffing or professional staffing services.

The team of professionals at our recruiting/temp staffing agency and HR consulting firm truly enjoys what they do for our clients: finding the best candidates and hiring the most qualified temporary employees.

That’s why we are willing to compare our performance record with that of any of our competitors. In fact, we back our recruiting with our Good People Guarantee. If a client isn’t completely satisfied with a full-time or temporary recruit, we will replace the person with another candidate at no cost or provide a refund.

TriStarr is a professional temp and employment agency in Lancaster, Pa., and also serving Harrisburg, York, Lebanon and Reading. Contact us online, or give us a call at (717) 560-2111.

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