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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Screen Employees on Social Media

If you're planning to add employees to your company this year, you're probably planning to brush up on your social media skills. After all, in a CareerBuilder survey, 43 percent of employers admitted that they used sites like Facebook and Twitter to check out candidates before they threw out a job offer. It just seems smart to weed out the dangerous types before any money is on the table.

And it might seem strange, since I am in the reputation management business, to hear me say that I think you shouldn't use social sites for screening. In fact, I think it's one of the worst things you can do to protect your business.

And here's why, in five sweet statements.

1. What you think of as a gaffe may not be your employee's fault.

When you see something risqué on a site like Facebook, you probably assume that the person who put the thing there just doesn't care about his/her reputation at all. You probably think of that little bit of nastiness as something that the person is proud of. And that might keep you from offering that person a job.

But in reality, social sites can change super frequently. And that means the things your potential employees post might seem private, or be intended for private consumption, but the site's shifting privacy settings might expose what's meant to be hidden.

Don't believe me? Check out this study. While researchers found that Facebook users were trying hard to lock down their data and keep hidden things hidden, the site was consistently exposing data and sharing more. People wanted less. More came out.

So perhaps the stuff you're seeing isn't due to negligence at all. Perhaps it's due to the site and its shifting rules. Is it fair to penalize a person for something like that?

2. Some posts just aren't that bad, once you know the context.

Let me give you a scenario. Suppose you know that I am an ardent supporter of dog rescue. You know that I love my dog more than my life. And let's say that you see a photo on my Twitter feed of me seeming to throttle my dog with the caption, "He's being bad!" You'd know that I was kidding. The context would be there.

Now, let's assume that you know zip about me and you see that same photo. What would you assume? You'd probably assume that I am a dog-hating killer. And that might keep you from giving me a job.

Context really is king, when it comes to social posts, and a lot of that is stripped away when you're looking at information from a person you've never met. If you do social background checks, you're depriving yourself of context.

3. In some states, social sniffing isn't quite legal.
Anyone can hop online and check out a person's social sites. As long as the data is out there, it's fine for you to look at it. But, checking out a candidate on a social site could expose your company to discrimination lawsuits.

An article by the Society for Human Resource Management outlines this issue quite well. Here, the writers point out that an employer could spot all sorts of things on a social search that might never come up in an interview, including a same-sex marriage or an impending baby adoption. If that employer doesn’t offer the person a job, that person could claim that the information caused the job loss. And that's a hard claim to defend against, since the employer did know about the issue via a social post.

No one likes to get sued. Even if you win, you might still get stuck with fees and fines. And you might miss out on work because you'll be required to attend to the legal issue day in and day out. If you really want to stay out of the courtroom, staying off of social just seems wise.

4. Digital doppelgängers are common.

If you're searching for a job applicant on social, chances are that you're running a search with a name and a location. And it's pretty likely you're going to get people who have the same name.

The very addictive site suggests that there are all sorts of people who have the same name. There are 106 people named Harry Potter, for example, and 451 people named George Bush. There just aren't that many name combinations to go around in the world. And not everyone uses a social signal you can identify, like a photo. That could mean you're investigating the wrong person, and the data you're pulling could be totally worthless.

5. You could be eliminating your best employees.

Clearly, social data isn't the best kind of data to use when you're trying to make a crucial decision, like who to hire to help your company grow. And if that's the key metric you're using in order to boost your company's success, you could be doing a lot more harm than good. It's best to stick to the tried and true. Your company will benefit. 

Reviewed by author: Ashley Adams

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  1. Very efficiently Reasons for Social Media. It will be valuable to everyone who uses it, including myself. Thanks
    I am also provide Fix online reputation service. its very Interesting and needed in Business.

  2. As the government jobs competition is increasing day by day, websites like these will really come in handy for the applicants with the rich information it is providing.

  3. Sarkari Recruitment is one of the biggest Indian Job Site so here you will getTamilnadu govt jobs 2017so



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