The influence of Social Media on the Recruitment Process

The HR function has evolved since the introduction of social media.  Social media posts are no longer just a way of expressing one’s personal views.  It also gives great insight into the professional conduct and character of a prospective employee.  The recruitment process no longer starts with just reviewing a CV, it has also expanded to viewing social media and LinkedIn profiles.  It is at this point where employers can already gage whether prospective employees will fit in with the company’s culture, share the same values and have a professional network that will benefit the company.  The individual responsibility when posting online is therefore not just personal but also professional.

Online recruiting is all about finding quality candidates and connecting with them.  Social media is where people hang out online to express ideas and interact with each other.

Employers however need to tread carefully when using social profiles for background checks.  The legal risks come from the information you learn that the candidate may later claim was the reason he or she was not hired. There are a variety of “protected characteristics,” such as age, race, religion and nationality that employers cannot consider when deciding whether to hire someone. Employers that do base hiring decisions on that type of information can be sued.[1]

How to Conduct Social Media Background Checks[2]

  1. Wait until the end:One way to help minimize the risk of a potential lawsuit is to not conduct social media background checks until you are close to making a final hiring decision.  If you wait until after interviews are conducted, job candidates would have difficulty claiming that the reason they weren’t hired was that you saw their age or race on their Facebook pages.
  2. Only HR staff should look:You don’t want the person who would be directly in charge of the job candidate searching social media pages. This should be left up to HR professionals or a background-check service, since they are much better trained to know what to look for on social media.
  3. Be consistent:You want to make sure you are checking everyone, or no one, when hiring for a specific job.  That doesn’t mean you need to conduct social media checks for every position you are hiring for, but there should be guidelines for when it is done.  For example, you might have a policy that says you look at social media when hiring for all manager-level positions.
  4. Look only at what’s public:It is important to look only at social media pages that are public for anyone to see. Under no circumstances should you ever ask for job candidates’ social media passwords.
  5. Look for outliers:When you are searching a candidate’s social media pages, look only for things that stick out as being really bad or really good.
  6. Give guidelines to your background-screening firm:Businesses that use an outside firm to conduct background checks should know not only if the firm searchers social media pages, but also what it looks for.

[1] Chad Brooks, Business News Daily

[2] Jonathan Segal, Duane Morris LLP




You cannot copy content of this page

Scroll to Top