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A study conducted in 2017 by influencer marketing agency Mediakix claims that the average person will spend more than five years on social media. Its sheer pervasiveness makes social media a valuable tool for communication and network-building.

For employers, this can be a golden opportunity. Not only does it cast a wider net when it comes to recruitment, but it is also a convenient asset to thoroughly vet a candidate. Traditional screening methods are undoubtedly useful. But, even with the most stringent requirements, there are still some gaps. For example, a person is almost always at their best behavior during a job interview. They come in with shoes shined and ready to answer tough questions.

However, social media is another story. People are less guarded when they are on Facebook or Instagram. They post about their political views, leave comments, or indicate their associations by the people they interact with online. These behaviors can provide an insight into whether or not a candidate will fit into the culture of the company.

The Role of Social Media

Social media screening is the process where companies look through a person’s internet footprints to see if there is anything that could potentially incriminate a candidate. Some of the common issues that are tagged are violent or abusive behaviors as well as racist or bigoted views. In this sense, this process is not about looking for reasons to remove people who are unlikeable or acerbic. The process of social media screening is there to flag instances that could indicate potential danger to the company and the brand.

The use of social media as a recruitment tool is not an adversarial situation. It is just part of the company doing its due diligence to ensure that its reputation and existing employees are protected. In fact, it is not only the company that stands to benefit from the proper use of social media. A look at a person’s social media presence can also reveal that he or she is the right person for the job. It can positively humanize a candidate.

A Double-Edged Sword

But, there are some limits to the investigations a company can do over what is posted online. One of the most important aspects is to inform the candidate that their social media accounts will be visited as part of the recruitment process. It is both a courtesy and an ethical stand.

Even with that transparency, there are still some limits to what the hiring company can do. For example, downloading pictures or asking for social media passwords are invasive, no matter for what purpose in the hiring process.

Standardizing the process is a safeguard that can assure the people involved that no privacy boundaries are breached. In fact, some companies opt to hire independent organizations such as FAMA, a group that provides an AI-based solution that detects threats and identifies risks.

The most challenging part of human resource issues is the human part. People are complex creatures. It helps to have this frame of mind when looking at social media because all it does is provide a glimpse of who a person is. Nevertheless, this snapshot can still be useful in making sure that the company is making the right decisions when it comes to hiring.