Should HR Use Social Media in Hiring and Firing Decisions?
In today’s world, social media is an essential part of everyday life. It’s a trend that is infiltrating people’s personal life at a staggering rate. Information which was once off-limits is now publicly available online. It has even passed over the border into the workplace. But should it?
The presence of social media in the workplace poses more questions than the number of solutions it provides. Nowhere is this more evident than in employment decisions where the use of social media in hiring and firing decisions remains uncharted territory for HR.
Like with everything concerning social media, there are positive and negative sides. To find the middle ground, take a look at a few tips that can help you maneuver around possible social media workplace challenges.
1. Beware of Accidental Bias
Always consider compliance during the hiring process. Remaining unbiased and tolerant with the candidate is essential when making employment decisions. Harmless as it seems, accessing a candidate’s social media profile can expose you to too much information which can negatively influence your decision-making process.
If you want to avoid finding yourself in a precarious situation that might compromise your compliance, try putting off social media until after the interview and screening process is over. It’s important to remain open-minded and allow yourself the opportunity to engage with the candidate objectively – without the influence of outside bias.
2. Social vs. Professional Networks
Despite the challenges companies face with traditional social media sites, it’s important to remain open-minded about specific types of online information. Platforms like LinkedIn, GitHub and Dribbble can be utilized to give companies a more accurate, informed, and positive assessment of a persons personal and professional profile.
3. Focus on Professional Abilities
In the hiring process its important to focus on a candidate’s skill set, character, personality, and cultural fit. Certain interactions that may be socially stigmatizing in your workplace environment might be totally acceptable in the individual’s personal social circle.
Do your best to respect the views of others and make your hiring judgments based on professional stature.
4. Create a Formal Policy
If your Organization chooses to perform social media background checks, screening should be done according to a formal company policy. Create a list of which social media sites to search and determine what types of social interaction and behaviors you deem unacceptable.
The reality is many employers routinely access social media to do applicant screening. While there is nothing inherently unlawful about doing this, employers need to be cautious and aware of some of the legal and ethical ramifications of using social media in the hiring process. Ultimately, every organization will need to carefully consider what makes sense for their company and weigh the risks and rewards of social media vetting.