Beyond Sourcing: Are Employers Putting Themselves at Risk by Using Social Media to Screen Candidates?

With over 40% of employers reporting the use of social networking sites to research job candidates, it’s not surprising that companies are using them beyond sourcing. According to a recent CareerBuilder Survey, hiring managers report using social networking and internet search engines frequently and/or always to find additional screening and background information for their future permanent, temporary, and contractor workforce.  While this research is intended to help validate the career history and cultural fit with an organization, it a can also bring potential legal labor risks. Without risk mitigating employment policies in place, social networking and Internet candidate information could potentially be interpreted as discrimination and/or negligent hiring practices.

There are multiple online screening and hiring strategies that help balance between assurance of a solid candidate match and avoiding a bad hiring decision or law suit. Companies can establish a solid social media hiring policy and include a specific portion covering screening when hiring. A policy that focuses more on professionally validating the candidate is necessary. Hiring managers have reported the following information to be helpful when screening temporary, permanent, and contractor workforce:

  • Mutual professional connections – A useful way to determine a candidate’s degree of involvement and connectivity within a profession and/or industry. 
  • Group Associations – This reveals professional topics that candidates are personally invested in receiving or contributing additional information.  This can be a way to see involvement and investment in different talent networks and means to advancing their career.
  • Endorsements, Recommendations, & Awards – Online recognition of a candidates skill sets are a window into their performance and will give insight into the strengths they will likely bring to the job.
  • What They Are Sharing – Look to see how candidates are creating meaningful content and use it as a means to assess their professional communication skills.

In addition to social media, there are other ways companies can effectively scale their sourcing and screening capabilities to determine candidate fit. By partnering with Managed Service Providers (MSP), organizations are able to leverage extensive sourcing and screening expertise and resources to identify candidates that can be hired on as a temporary labor and later converted to a permanent longtime hire. The same is true for companies who are sourcing their own candidates and decide to on-board talent as independent contractors to determine a long-term sustainable fit for the role. With this option, however, savvy organizations know to avoid “long-term” contractor co-employment risks by having the candidate’s employer of record through a third party pay-rolling partner.

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