In today’s society social media plays a role in just about everything. Social media has now been implemented in the hiring process. There are many employers who search social media before and after hiring an applicant. Research has revealed that there are numerous pros and cons that comes out of searching someone’s social media sites. But, when the cons outweigh the pros other alternatives should be considered. Should the policy of human resource managers searching social media be changed? Should employers be allowed to search applicants/employees social media? If yes, what are the benefits of employers search the social site? If no, how can the search off social media sites be detrimental to someone’s chances of finding employment?
In many states and countries, the laws of employers searching employee’s social media is not clear. As a result of these unclear laws there have been many people losing their employment because of information being posted on social media sites. Since the laws of employers searching social media is unclear employers are allowed to use the information found on the sites as reasons to terminate employees. For example, there have been several incidents where school teachers have been found with inappropriate content on their social media profiles. As a result of the inappropriate content the teachers were fired. Now everyone has their own opinion about who is right and who is wrong in these cases, but I feel both parties are wrong and both parties should have taken precautions to ensure these situations never happen. Social media sites can reveal information to employers that can cause them to become biased against applicants. Information that is illegal for employers to ask during an interview can be found on social media sites. For example employers are not allowed to ask are someone is married, if they are a citizen, what religion someone is practice, what is an individual’s race, and family status during an interview. All of these questions are protected under Civil Rights Acts and are illegal for an employer to ask during a job interview. But, most of this information is revealed on individuals social media sites, which are considered a public site. By employers becoming aware of this information from social media they are setting themselves up to be accused of acts of discrimination. After viewing an applicant’s social media profile it may be very difficult to say they were not discriminated against because of those characteristics.
Individuals may argue that searching social media is not accurate interpretation of their lives, but social media is basically a glimpse of their lives. With photos and posts people are able to allow others to see parts of their lives. Viewers may not get a complete story, but the part you shared is an accurate account of whatever is happening in your life at the moment. Also privacy has been an issue with employers using social media as a tool to know more about employees. Social media networks are not made to secure jobs, so employers believe that people are honest when socializing on the sites. Recruiters search social networks to get a true view of an applicant. According to Slovensky and Ross hiring managers feel applicants will customize their resume for different jobs for leverage. Hiring managers feel it is important to check the information on social media to be sure it is accurate. Also hiring managers pay close attention to the comments left by friends and family on applicant’s profile. The recruiters feel some comments can be far more revealing than the information individuals have posted themselves.
Several research studies have been completed involving employers who use social media as a means to discover information about applicants. Schawbel discussed a survey completed by Jobvite that revealed 92 percent of employers in the U.S today are using or are planning to use social media to hire their employees. The search of social media is now believe to be an easy way to discover information about job candidates. Employers participating in the survey believe all applicants should have a social media site of some sort, and if they feel the applicants were hiding information. About 66 percent of the people in this survey claimed to use social networks to verify qualifications and to check if the applicants had poor grammar skills. The top three social networks being searched by employers are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Jobs in various industries are advertised on these sites and employer’s now believe social media to be a good way to recruit job candidates. Schawbel’s research only contains a few positive things employers receive from searching social media sites. Yes, checking for qualifications are a good thing, but many people don’t advertise their resumes on Twitter and Facebook. Also the survey mentioned employers checking for grammar skills on these social networks. The average character limit on certain social media sites like Twitter for instance, is 140. It is sometimes impossible for a person to have a grammatically correct post with that small character limit. People use social media like Twitter and Facebook to interact with their friends, so of course informal language will be used. If employers want to search social media sites they should only search the sites strictly made for professional purposes, such as LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a site that was made strictly for professional use. Individuals create LinkedIn accounts to manage their professional identities and to network for jobs. There are millions of people who use this site with the hopes of landing a job. Companies like Microsoft and Acme have professional pages on LinkedIn designed for applicants. Employers at these companies are allowed to see the applicants LinkedIn profiles and see their qualifications and offer individuals jobs. A survey was conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project to determine just how many adults were using social media sites with the intention of gaining employment. The survey revealed that 72 percent of the individuals participating in the survey were adults with degrees. Majority of the people claimed to use LinkedIn as the main site to advertise their degrees and qualifications. Individuals involved in hiring process claims using social media sights during the recruitment process allows for an expanded candidate pool for jobs. Some recruiters in the survey admitted to preferring this method because it allowed them to see more individuals whereas they are limited to the number of face-to-face interviews they could complete. Employers believe using social media is cost effective, easier to identify candidates, reduces hiring time, and can potentially produce a better quality of applicants. Many companies have social media sites and are able to view potential applicants profile making it easier to network. An employer can know an applicant’s connections in the professional world and also other jobs a person may have had all from viewing their LinkedIn account. Most employers feel they can get a sense of an applicant’s personality and character from viewing their Facebook and Twitter profiles.
According to Jocelyn Richard, the search of social media can be used to discriminate against job applicants. The information from Richard’s article comes from a CareerBuilder survey completed by 2000 hiring managers. The survey revealed that 37 percent of hiring managers use social networking sites to research job applicants, with Facebook being the main site being searched. From the survey only 15 percent of companies had policies in place that prohibited managers from searching applicant’s social media. The survey revealed a very alarming fact: 12 percent of hiring managers admitted they search social networks just to find a reason not to hire an applicant. This is alarming because no one would expect an employer to search their profile only to find an excuse not to hire them. This fact may cause people to delete or deactivate their social media accounts when apply for a job. The survey revealed that more than half of the employers used the sites to determine if someone would fit in with the company’s culture. Another alarming fact discovered in the survey is that only 45 percent of the human resource managers used social media to verify applicant’s qualifications. 45 percent is not even half of the people who participated in the survey, this shows that the search of social media is not being used to benefit the applicant. Many people may say they are not using social media to discriminate against applicants, but that may not be true. Participants of the survey admitted to searching social media to determine if someone fits in with the company’s culture, this is a discriminatory act towards the applicants because you are judging them from their race/culture.
The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) addresses social media in today’s workplaces. The commission identified Facebook and LinkedIn as site that may assist in hiring proper candidates for jobs. But, the commission also feels that the information discovered on these sites can cause someone to become biased during the hiring process. If companies are going to complete social media background checks they should have a person who is not associated with the hiring process to conduct the background check. If the person is not associated within the hiring process they most likely will not become biased and judgmental. The EEOC went further to explain that only public information on an individual’s profile should be subject to being search. No employer should request private passwords for any accounts. As of now there are only four states that have laws against employers requesting private passwords.
According to Russell and Stutz, employers use social media in their selection and recruitment process. Employers claim to use social media to get insight on job candidates, but viewing these profiles can affect an employer’s decision making process. After viewing a potential employees social media and employer may become biased. The employers may make an individual’s home activities more important than their credentials and previous job experiences. Data privacy laws and antidiscrimination laws all relate to employers use of social media. For an example, in the United States, as a part of data privacy laws job candidates need to provide the employers with a written authorization prior to having a background check. As stated before privacy legislations vary in every jurisdiction. For an example in France, user conditions of social networking sites contain restrictions on the use of information found on the site for recruitment and professional purposes. Employers in France or Germany can only use professional social networks such as LinkedIn, but they are not allowed to use general social media sites.
Rules and regulations about social media should be made clear to employees. Individuals should know that their accounts are being monitored and if inappropriate material is posted they may be subjected to being terminated. Social media can be a blessing and a curse for employers and job applicants, therefore it should not be used in the hiring process Russell and Stutz state “There is no uniform way to deal with social media, social media policies have to be tailored to fit the country, company culture, and the image of the company.”
Russell, Reinier, and Michèle Stutz. “Social Media: What Employers Need To Know.” Journal Of Internet Law 17.8 (2014): 3-6. Business Source Premier. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.
Richard, Jocelyn. “37 Percent Of Employers Use Facebook To Pre-Screen Applicants, New Study Says.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 03 Apr. 2014.
Schawbel, Dan. “How Recruiters Use Social Networks to Make Hiring Decisions Now | TIME.com.” Business Money How Recruiters Use Social Networks to Make Hiring Decisions Now Comments. TIME, 09 July 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.
United States. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Social Media Is Part of Today’s Workplace but Its Use May Raise Employment Discrimination Concerns.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 12 March 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
HireRight. “Why Is Social Media So Critical to Your Recruitment Efforts?”Employment Background Check Blog HireRight. HireRight, 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 05 May 2014.
Slovensky, Ross, and William H. Ross. “Should Human Resource Managers use Social Media to Screen Job Applicants? Managerial and Legal Issues in the USA.” Info : the Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media 14.1 (2012): 55-69. ProQuest. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.