According to a recently published Harris Poll, 52 percent of employers use social media to research job candidates. This number is up from 43 percent in 2014 and 39 percent in 2013.
What information are employers looking for?
- 60 percent are looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job.
- 56 percent want to see if the candidate has a professional online persona.
- 37 percent want to see what other people are posting about the candidate.
- 21 percent admit they’re looking for reasons not to hire the candidate.
The same poll found that 35 percent of hiring managers who use social media to screen applicants have sent friend requests or otherwise attempted to connect with applicants online. As stunning as that number is, it’s even more stunning that 80 percent report that job seekers report accepting such requests.
Employers, please stop the insanity. I’m not treading new ground here by telling you that you are taking a huge risk by Googling or Friending applicants without proper checks in place to guard against the disclosure of protected information. “What types of information,” you ask? How about information about the individual’s medical history or religious preference, for starters.
Yes, there are a host of reasons to engage in these searches. Indeed, I believe that, in a world of increasing transparency online, employers take a risk by not including Facebook in their pre-employment background searches. But, it needs to be part of larger background screening program. And, you need to ensure that you have the right checks in place to keep protected information (such as EEO stuff) as far away from the decision makers as possible.
How do you do this? Train someone external to your hiring process to perform the searches, and provide a scrubbed report to those internal to the hiring process. These scrubbed reports should be void of any protected information, while including any info relevant to the hiring decision (such as whether the applicant has ever trashed an ex-employer online, or disclosed an ex-employer’s confidential information, or exhibits poor judgment by posting inappropriate or harassing stuff).
And, for god’s sake, please stop Friending job applicants. It’s just plain creepy.