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Social media and potential employees

AKRON (April 28, 2014) — In this social media blog series, I have touched on many topics about how to use social media to engage your audience and how to use it as a marketing tool, but I wanted to approach this a little differently in this blog. I want to focus on how you, as a business owner, can use Facebook and other social media sites as a business tool.

For instance, when I was at the YouToo Social Media Conference on April 11 in Kent, Ohio, one of the things that really stuck in my brain was a statement by Chief David Oliver of the Brimfield Police Department in Brimfield, Ohio. Mr. Oliver commented that the first thing he does when a warrant comes through is to check if that person has a Facebook or Twitter account, because people are always posting where they are. Granted, potential employees are not necessarily criminals you are trying to catch, but you will be able to see some of their behaviors before you employ them.

Now, I am not saying that any potential employee who has a drink in his or her hand on a Facebook profile is a bad hire, nor am I saying to turn to social media to search out things that are illegal, like discrimination against one’s race, religion or sexual preference. However, what if you find that person is constantly bad-mouthing his or her current employer? Or co-workers? I think for a lot of hiring managers, that is a red flag.

I have done my research on this topic and have read studies, some of which advocate being on the lookout for social media pages when vetting potential employees and others that say you should not. All of the sites say that if you are going to use social media to look up potential employees, make sure you are being smart about it.

A Mashable article said it best when it explains the danger of basing hiring decisions on what you find on social media because it could give “an employer a piece of information that could leave them open to a lawsuit.”

However, this same article explains the upside of looking out for social media pages. First off, a recent study conducted by researchers at Old Dominion University said that a person’s social media profile can know “more about you than you know about yourself.”

According to the Mashable article, “The study’s authors speculate social media footprints have an advantage over personality tests because they often contain records of behavior stretching back years and are a relatively uncontrolled environment compared to a one-time personality test.”

Often times when companies recruit for jobs, potential employees are asked to fill out a personality quiz. Whether this is online before an in-person interview or right before the interview begins, this is a common practice. Do a simple online search for “Job personality tests” and all kinds of companies pop up to assist businesses in running these tests, along with quizzes potential job seekers can use to find a profession that matches them.

While these may be beneficial, what these articles are telling us is that social media can replace these measures with a more accurate reading. If you see a person’s Facebook page and they are sharing numerous links to business articles and things related to your industry, you can see that it is something they are really interested in.

Are you looking for an auto mechanic? Maybe your potential employee had pictures of old cars they have fixed up or you can see their friends posting to them questions about cars. This would show you that this candidate knows the business and is a valued source among he or her group of family and friends.

Again, I would not recommend putting yourself in a position where you are discriminating against someone, but understanding their personality and how well they might fit into the company is a different story.

If you do choose to start looking over a candidate’s social media presence, take comfort that you are not alone.

Here are some stories I found really useful in my research:

How to hire like Google and Facebook

Facebook profiles can predict work performance

Social media screening should not be used for online screening

Better clean up your Facebook profile as your next job might depend on it

A article quoted a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, explaining that 77 percent of organizations use social networking sites for recruiting, primarily as a way to attract passive job candidates.

This article recommends that social media not be used for online screening, adding that some companies may be taking screening too far. For instance, the article said that University of Illinois at Chicago students reported they have received online friend requests from interviewers after going on a job interview. This might put perspective employees in an awkward position because if they have their privacy settings set up on social media so only certain people can see, there may have information they would not want a future employer to know. However, if they do not accept the friendship, they might feel like they will not get the job.

The article said, “The Equal Employment Opportunity has not issued specific regulations regarding online screening.”

Some business owners may be hesitant to search online because of possible implications; however, there are many, many business owners who are already searching things out on this medium. In addition, remember that if this potential employee has an online footprint that you can see, it can be seen by other people. If they are a person who speaks poorly about the place they work at online, then you need to think about how that person may speak about you and how that could affect the company and its brand.

If this is a route you are interested taking, do some research, speak with your team and go from there.

No post about online and employment should be written without at least touching on LinkedIn, because it’s a great tool to use in the business world. Does your company have a LinkedIn company page? Did you know that you can post jobs you are hiring for right on the site? People who are looking for jobs in your industry are looking on LinkedIn for opportunities.

You might be thinking that this is not applicable in the tire industry, but that is not true. I remember last year for the LinkedIn-centric blog post, I spoke with Chris Cassidy, Internet marketing manager at Big Brand Tire & Service, who said the company had definitely found success hiring for upper management and IT-related positions on LinkedIn. He said Big Brand also found success in doing business-to-business searches on the social site and that it’s a good outlet for wholesale.

Social media as a whole can be a great place to post about the jobs you are hiring for, especially LinkedIn. If you do choose to use other sites, just make sure you are not only posting about the jobs you are hiring. There is still engagement that is needed with your followers.






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