Using Social Media as a hiring tool? Read This


From time to time, we like to share great tech-related articles from partners and friends. Enjoy this great article from Michael Murray, Chief Medic at Payroll Medics! Find them at

The use of social networking sites has skyrocketed over the past few years. And, individuals aren’t the only ones using them. Businesses have jumped on board to attract new clients, interact with current customers, recruit potential employees, and even screen applicants. While it may seem enticing for employers to use social media websites to screen job candidates, this is an area where employers should use caution.

The following are 8 key factors to consider before using social networking sites for hiring-related purposes:

  1. Consider the purpose.  Before using social media, employers should consider the purpose served and whether other suitable options would achieve the same goal. For example, if the intent of using social media is to investigate an employee’s qualifications, then a formal employment and education verification is likely to produce more accurate results as well as information that is strictly job-related.
  2. Evaluate job-relatedness. Social networking sites may reveal a significant amount of information about an applicant, some of which may not be related to the job. For example, information posted on an applicant’s online profile may reveal their race, marital status, age or other characteristic protected by law. Employers must be mindful to only consider information that is job-related when making hiring or any other employment-related decisions.
  3. Don’t take the information at face value. While some of the information you discover about a candidate may seem to be worthwhile, such as the college or university in which he or she obtained their degree or the professional organizations to which he or she belongs, it’s important to realize that this information may not be accurate. Applicants – and even other parties posing as the applicant – may post erroneous information online. As such, it’s important to investigate further and to never make an employment decision based solely on information that was obtained online.
  4. Avoid pre-texting.  An individual’s privacy settings may thwart an employer’s attempts at researching him or her via social networking sites. Employers, recruiters, and other members of the organization should never pretend to be someone else to gain access to an individual’s social networking page, a practice known as pre-texting.
  5. Consider restrictions. Many employers that choose to use social media for hiring-related purposes opt to place specific restrictions on its use. For example, some employers prohibit those involved in making hiring decisions from using social networking sites to research applicants. Others restrict use to certain professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, or to certain aspects of a candidate’s online presence, such as their work and education history.
  6. Develop a written policy.  No matter how you decide to use (or not use) social networking websites, it’s important to develop a written policy describing the permissible and impermissible use of social media for hiring-related purposes (e.g., who is permitted to conduct social media searches, which websites are permissible, and what type of information may be obtained). Written procedures and training are also important for anyone who will be using social media for this purpose.  Note: employers should be sure to address employee use of social networking as well as the use of social media for recruiting or other business-related reasons.
  7. Comply with state and federal laws When using social media, employers must ensure compliance with laws addressing employment discrimination, background checks, and privacy. For example, some states protect workers from discrimination based on legal off-duty conduct, such as smoking or the consumption of alcohol. Therefore, an employer in those states who discovers that a candidate smokes or drinks by reviewing their social networking page would not be permitted to use that information in making hiring or other employment-related decisions.
  8. Recruiting employees.  When recruiting new employees, consider using the popularity of social media to your advantage. It is a relatively low-cost and effective means for posting job ads. If employers use social networking sites to recruit employees, they should develop a recruiting plan specific to social media and designate someone who is responsible for posting content and responding to inquiries. In addition, social networking websites shouldn’t be the only medium by which an employer recruits; relying solely on this resource may limit your applicant pool.

Social media websites are offering new opportunities for businesses to interact with both customers and prospective employees, but employers must be mindful of the potential for improper use and be prepared to take the steps necessary to prevent it.

Michael Murray is founder and Chief Medic for Payroll Medics. Located in Greenville, SC, Payroll Medics has grown across the Southeast with a client focused, technology driven approach for businesses with a desire to drive down costs while increasing efficiencies. For more information about Payroll Medics find them on the web at

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