3 Tips For Using Social Media To Hire Effectively

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Talented people looking for jobs in the 21st Century are more likely to offer you a link to their website than they are a résumé. It’s all just part of doing business in the digital age.

In many ways, online innovation has made life easier for human resources professionals, but it has also presented new and unexpected challenges. One of these has been the new ways in which employees are recruited, screened and ultimately hired. Nowhere has this process changed more dramatically than the in the area of social media.

Employers looking for new faces to join their team will find social media to be an incredible time-saver. No longer do recruiters need to do the tremendous legwork they had in the past to find top candidates. They can simply post job opportunities to their corporate social media accounts using appropriate hash tags and keywords, and then let prospects come to them.

But there are some problems with this approach—serious ethical and legal problems. If you want to use social media in the most effective and legal manner, here are some tips to keep in mind:

• Use it, but don’t abuse it. Recruiting can be a tremendously complicated process and while social media may appear to be a quick way to find and attract the best and brightest, it may not be the only Laws and ethics demand today’s employers to provide equal opportunities for everyone, and restricting your searches to social media can eliminate several quality avenues leading to a diverse workforce. For example, those in the upper and middle classes tend to have better access to social media, which means if you use it exclusively, those with economic disadvantages could potentially be cut out of your recruitment efforts. Since economic hardship tends to affect racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately, you may be missing out on quality applicants because you failed to look beyond social media. Not only could this present ethical problems, it could present legal issues, as well. Make sure you add in some traditional recruiting tactics, such as attending job fairs, soliciting résumés and posting openings to job boards.

• Keep it legal. Speaking of legal issues, you are probably aware that there are certain protected classes to consider when it comes to hiring. Most employers nowadays will do their due diligence by scanning an applicant’s social media accounts and general online footprint. While this screening tactic can be a valuable tool when it comes to eliminating candidates (inappropriate comments or images, offensive or racist language, abusive or disgusting rants, etc.) screening for the wrong things can create legal problems for you and your company. For this reason, many companies enlist the help of professional screeners to ensure they’re observing federal and state laws when it comes to the fairness of this critical phase in the hiring process.

• Step back and look at the big picture. If you’re confident that your recruitment process has been fair and ethical, and your finalists have an online footprint that features one or more social media accounts, it’s OK to look at them to get an idea of the candidates’ personalities. While certain red flags are legitimate to preclude certain applicants from moving forward (see above), it’s important to remember that looking at the person’s entire body of social media postings and updates will give you a better idea of who that person is and has become than looking at isolated updates, tweets or opinions in a vacuum. It’s easy to pick apart statements or posts when looking at them individually. Stepping back and looking at how that person has evolved their opinions, tempered their posts or softened their tweets over time may demonstrate how they have matured. That’s not a bad thing. We’ve all made stupid comments now and then, but deleting or dialing them back on social media can be difficult or even impossible.

Social media may be a great starting point for recruiting, screening and hiring, but relying on it too heavily isn’t wise. If used as part of a targeted and well-thought-out strategy, however, social media can be a valuable tool.

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