The Impact of Social Media on the Hiring Process

The digital age is revolutionizing all aspects of modern life, including the hiring process. Today’s recruiters can access an enormous amount of information about candidates simply by searching the web and examining social media. CareerBuilder’s latest social media recruitment review shows 60 percent of employers are currently using social networking sites to research job candidates.

According to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, 65% of adults and 90% of young adults in the U.S. now use social networking sites. The reality is that most of the communication in today’s world happens online, and if businesses are to be successful in recruiting, they must increasingly rely on social media to build their brand, get the word out about job opportunities, and more effectively vet candidates. Let’s explore the benefits of social media recruiting, as well as its challenges.

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Why Recruit via Social Media?

Using social media outlets to recruit candidates provides many benefits:

Promotes Your Brand: Featuring content on your company’ssocial media sites that demonstrates why your company is a greatplace to workand showcases company culture can help build your company brand and attract employees that are a good fit. Additionally, should any public relations issues arise that need to be addressed, social media provides a good avenue to post the company response and other content that protects your brand.

Attracts More High-Quality Candidates: Many high-quality candidates maintain a social media presence. To reach these candidates, HR managers can post about an open position on all the company’s social media sites. The company’s fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn allow recruiters to tap a much broader network than they could otherwise to get the word out about job openings. In a recent Jobvite survey, 44% of companies reported that the quality of candidates has increased since implementing social media recruiting.

Allows for Targeting of Passive Candidates – There are many high-quality passive candidates (people who are currently employed and not looking for a job) that recruiters can identify and target on social media. A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that recruiting passive candidates is the top reason that companies are using social media for recruitment.

Challenges of Using Social Media Recruiting

Though there are many benefits to using social media, it does not come without challenges. What are the common pitfalls?

Potential to Damage the Company Brand: Just as it’s important for job seekers tobe careful about what they post to their social media pages these days, companies should also be mindful that the type of information posted on their social media sites will likely influence how potential candidates view the company.

Potential Legal Risks: Under federal and state laws, certain “protected” information cannot lawfully be used in a hiring decision – race, age, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, health status, pregnancy status, etc. If job seekers suspect that such protected information was obtained by a potential employer from social media (or any other sources for that matter) and used as a basis to deny employment, they can file a complaint under state and/or federal anti-discrimination laws which can lead to a significant financial penalty for the company.

Since it is virtually impossible to avoid seeing protected information on candidate’s social media pages, companies should put procedures in place to prevent getting into legal trouble due to social media recruitment efforts:

  1. Have a clear policy that spells out what kind of information found on social media is acceptable to be used in hiring decisions.
  2. Clearly document every hiring decision that involved social media searches to protect the company in case discrimination allegations arise.

Social media recruiting, when done right, is a great tool for recruiting top notch candidates and showcasing your company brand. Like any other tool, it is important to have policies and procedures in place around its acceptable use to make sure your organization can leverage it effectively for maximum benefit.

MORE: ATS Integrated Social Media Recruiting vs. Traditional Social Media Recruiting


Dale Curtis
Dale Curtis is president of Astrix Technology Group, an informatics consulting, professional services and staffing company serving the scientific community for more than 20 years.

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