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Sunday
Jul102011

10 Reasons to not Screen Employees with Facebook

With Social Media becoming so prominent many employers are now checking facebook profiles on potential employees before they hire them.  I think checking this type of information is a slippery slope and I do not agree with it.  If you have a policy of doing this and do it on all hires it could actually create a worse situation for you.  It is easy to google someone or even log into your facebook account and check to see what might come up.  Here are some reasons I do not think this is a good idea:

  • Discrimination is a major issue when hiring new employees. Social Intelligence is designed to create equal opportunity for all potential hires by concealing any material that falls under Federal and State Protected Classes in United States anti-discrimination law. According to the law, the following are characteristics and factors that cannot be considered as a reason to withhold an employment offer: Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, gender identity, disability status, veteran status, and genetic information.  Pulling this information up on facebook or other social site could pull any of this information up and put you into a sticky situation.
  • Lack of Information - the smartest employee will have a limited profile while job searching.  Many people even remove their profile while they search for a job. Even if you do find something, chances are your not seeing the whole picture, as many people have security settings that allow you to see only some of their page and it's  usually the mild stuff.
  • Lack of a Standard Policy - if you don't have a written social media policy of any type and you are evaluating social media or trying to control what employees do at and away from work you should stop, consult with an attorney or consultant, and develop one before continuing.  
  • Social Media Checks should never replace a solid background check - Information pulled up on google or other social media website should never be used alone to evaluate a candidate.  Criminal Background Checks, Credit Reports, and other in depth checks help create a complete profile along with your interviewing and qualifying, and reference checking.
  • Notification - If you make a decision based on social media, you must disclose what you found that was objectionable and give the applicant an opportunity to dispute it.  If you are like me, you can see this is a nightmare waiting to happen.  This information is subject to the FRCA just like credit or criminal records.  If  you are doing these yourself you expose yourself even further as you don't have an 800 number to give them, it's you that must now be that person.
  • Who's Decision?- Who is looking at and deciding who should be approved and declined based on what the discover?  Who knows what might sour the hiring manager away from someone.  They can think they are being objective, but who doesn't notice that the employee has opposite political or religious views than them?  What if the hiring manger has different views than you?
  • People Change - With young people especially, what is on their facebook from college may be totally different than how they behave now.  Many services go back as far as 7 years on social media.  We only go back 3 years on major traffic violations.  Doesn't add up.
  • Don't be a test case for a large law firm.  If you are using this information as a matter of policy you could easily be brought into a class action lawsuit.  There is very little case law in upper courts on this subject.  You don't want that court case to be you.
  • Where to Search? - With Twitter, Facebook, the new Google+, Tumblr, & more, who knows where all to search now?  Who might be using alternative names or profiles for any of these services?  
  • Training - Are your employees trained on how or what to look for? Are they consistent on what they are looking for?  If not, this is not a good position to be in.

If you read this and are still set on looking at social media, at least use a service that specializes in this type of check.  There are multiple out there but Social Intelligence is one that is being used by several companies now. 

 

Chris Moxley