The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Social Media to Screen Candidates


Fact #1: Employers are using social media to screen candidates.

Fact #2: Everyone should be careful when posting to social media. The truth about social media is once you’re out there, you can be found. It’s likely at some point you’ll be a job candidate. See #1.

Fact #3: There are some definite “do’s and don’ts” employers should follow when surfing to find candidate info on the web.

Finding the Right Employee

Finding the right employee has more to do with who you know than who applies to the job. In today’s digital society, social networking is a great way to source job candidates. Social media is also a good tool for candidate screening.  While statistics vary, it appears around 90% of all employers are using social media to not only recruit, but to pre-screen candidates. And we all know Millennials use social media, start hiring them. According to the Twitter account @HireOnLinkedIn: Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020.

Reach potential job seekers in two important ways:

  • 1. Social media helps build trust with an audience. No matter what type of business, you can use social media to create written and video content. Your customers are searching everyday for information. Don’t miss opportunities to reach them through a blog or a Twitter or Facebook snippet. But these posts also reach potential job seekers, sharing important information about your company. Social media is a buzz-creator, and whether it’s a customer or an employee you can use it to spread company news.
  • 2. You can also use social media to connect with and review potential job candidates, even passive candidates who aren’t actively searching for a job, by actively searching candidates on the web and proactively reaching out with an invitation to apply to a job. The Society for Human Resource Management has an article with examples of employers who are taking social media to the next level.

Creating a Social Media Ripple

If a single social media platform is a stone in the pond of “the internet,” then tweets, posts, and “going viral” are the ripples in the water. The more stones in the water, the more ripples that occur. Using that ripple to reach job candidates by:

  • Promoting job openings
  • Announcing job fairs and recruiting events
  • Sharing company accomplishments and awards

Don’t be intimidated by social media; remember, its just another mode of communication. Develop a plan for using this popular communication tool to recruit the best talent in the industry to your company.

Doing the Right Thing: Do’s and Don’ts

Job seekers should be cautious about what they put on the web, but employers should be careful about using what they’ve found. For example:

  • DO check out a candidate online, but be consistent so that there is no privacy violation or discrimination concerns. Creating a formal human resource screening process avoids any appearance of impropriety. Defining a regimented social media usage policy for your HR team will protect your company down the road.
  • DO organize these search processes via a standard questionnaire or hiring matrix designed for social media. Develop criteria that are both legal and appropriate. For instance, it is illegal in the hiring process to make decisions based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, or some other protected class. So DON’T document candidate information related to these issues on your paperwork.
  • DO search only public information but DON’T request to become “friends” with the candidate in order to view their personal Facebook posts. Let the candidate know this process and your policies in advance. Also let them know that private data on social media will not be required as part of the application process.
  • Consider skipping potential legal concerns about searching social media altogether, and hire a third-party vendor to conduct the search. Using a third-party search firm will trigger the Fair Credit Reporting Act, so the fact that you’re using the firm must be disclosed.

The Bottom Line

The hiring manager should look at the criteria but not the social media site. The goal is to create a legal wall between researching social media and the hiring decision manager. This will add an additional layer of protection around your company. These HR decision makers should focus on the candidate background report, and not be swayed by the social media site itself. Too, the information is legally documented showing the process was fair and lawful.

Artisan Talent can help you navigate the right ways to use social media. We know social media, because we represent the best creative talent — including social media experts. Reach out today to find out more about the professional resources we can share with your team. OR let us do the dirty work for you and find the perfect candidate from our pool of talented professionals.

Get started here.

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