Users of social media continue to grow, with over half (53.6%) of the world’s population using social networks. Social media not only affects how people engage and interact with others online but is now affecting how people are getting hired for their next potential role. So how exactly does social media screening impact recruitment?
Social media screening involves the assessment and review of a candidate’s social media profile prior to a hiring decision.
A recent study found that the majority of employers (90%) take into consideration a candidate’s social media account into their hiring decision. With 79% claiming to have rejected a candidate based on their social content. Social media is often used as a pre-screening technique to gain a greater understanding of the candidate and determine whether or not their online presence reflects company values.
But can a fair judgement be made on a person based on their online presence? Does it act as a true reflection of their professional self? Or should both entities be kept separate? However you look at it, social media screening is happening and candidates are getting hired and fired due to what they choose to post online.
Is it fair to screen a candidate via social media?
Some argue, to have a recruiter assess a candidate based on their social media profile, is an invasion of privacy. Candidates may feel their social accounts aren’t a true representation of their professional self and for a recruiter to make a decision based on this would be inaccurate and unfair.
However, with the increasingly social savvy job seeker, potential candidates are warned to privatise profiles and delete anything they think may affect their job chances, such as offensive or inappropriate posts. Hiding their social media footprint makes it very difficult for the recruiter and hiring teams to find out more about them.
From the recruiter’s perspective, it’s not always time-effective to manually search through high volumes of social media profiles. Depending on how many applications they receive, it can take up a substantial amount of time. A recruiter will then have to decide whether the candidate will make a good fit within the potential company and role, based on what they have seen online. As this decision is based on the recruiter’s personal perception, it can put the candidate at risk of discrimination based on bias motives to hire. Employers make it a priority to treat job applications fairly and focus on the applicant’s skills and experience so considering social media profiles can risk damaging recruitment focus.
What are the benefits of social media screening?
Hiring teams favour social media as a screening technique because it allows them to gain a deeper insight into who the candidate is beyond their CV. Many also use social media to make company and candidate comparisons whilst assessing company culture fit.
Reviewing a person’s social media profile also helps recruiters understand the interests of the applicant. For example, do they pay attention to the area of work in which they are applying for? Do they follow or engage in industry trends? This can be a positive indication that for them it’s more than just a job and they are also knowledgeable in the area of work.
Social media screening can also act as a validation mechanism for recruiters. Finding a potential candidate online can help legitimise their application. Proving they are a real person and the skills and experience they said they had, are true. This can be confirmed with social media platforms such as LinkedIn. By stating their previous roles and even receiving recommendations from previous employers.
Social media screening can be extremely beneficial to help recruiters and hiring teams confirm a candidate’s application. It provides them with an insight into who they are as a person before ever having to meet them. It can also help employers to validate an application and to help make a great hire who will fit well into the company culture. But it is important recruiters are aware of the risks in doing so. The reason to hire shouldn’t solely depend on social media. The risks in doing so, are subject to bias and distract away from a candidate’s core abilities.
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