How to Vet Job Applicants Via Social Media

vetting job applicants via social media

You can get an idea about a person through their resume and the interview process, but it’s just an idea.

Using social media, you can get to know more about a candidate and even vet them more completely than you can otherwise. As long as you do it carefully.

Get to Know Candidates Better

Through social media, you can get a better idea of who someone is. It’s a good addition to phone interviews and face-to-face interviews.

It can be difficult to gauge a candidate’s personality in a job interview, which is usually tempered by candidate nerves and recruiter expectations.

It can also be very difficult to gauge what a candidate’s character is, from a professional standpoint, and with their work habits.

Are they dependable and reliable? Are they well spoken or a poor communicator? Sometimes you can get a better idea of those types of characteristics through the messages they share publicly on social media such as LinkedIn.

– Anne Arrowsmith, Avitus Group Director of Talent Acquisitions

With Facebook, you can discover more about a person’s likes and dislikes, how they get along with other people (online, anyway), how social they are (not just online, but in real life) and even, in some cases, what they care deeply about.

For good or bad, you get a window into someone’s private lives. Or at least the part of their private lives that they share online with friends and family.

We’re not just talking about embarrassing pictures that immediately eliminate a candidate for a position, although that certainly does exist. We’re talking about getting a better idea of how well a candidate may fit into a company’s culture.

If, for example, someone blasts their Facebook timeline with strong political messaging that includes comments like “And I don’t care who knows it,” they might not be a good fit for a company that tries to avoid political discussions in the workplace (most companies).

Vet Applicants’ Professionalism

With LinkedIn, you can get a much better idea of how job applicants behave on a professional level. LinkedIn isn’t for social posts about going to baseball games or what-have-you.

LinkedIn is a professional networking tool that everyone should take very seriously. The face you present on LinkedIn should be the same face you present in a job interview. Which makes it a good filter for judging candidates’ professionalism.

But it also provides a lot of information about candidates’ professional lives. If someone is involved in professional groups on LinkedIn and seems to be engaged in the conversations going on in their profession, it’s likely that they have a passion for what they do, and you can see that on LinkedIn.

“The impact social media has had on our recruiting is immeasurable. When we’re on the fence about a candidate’s resume, we use LinkedIn to find out how involved they are in the LinkedIn community and throughout the industry. This gives valuable insight that was previously unattainable, and are key ingredients of our prime candidates,” says Cristin Sturchio, global head of Talent at Cognolink.  

Sturchio adds that when using LinkedIn as a screening tool, she and her team look for candidates who’ve gained endorsements, who belong to professional groups and follow relevant companies and people…

“This tells us that they are engaged and active in their profession, and are likely to be engaged and active as one of our employees. You can’t find that kind of information on a resume, and if you can, it often gets lost in more pressing details,” says Sturchio.

CIO magazine

The (Inevitable) Caveat

While social media can certainly help recruiters discover more about job candidates, it can also help them discover too much.

During the vetting process, you’ll have to be careful about not learning something about a candidate that exposes you to liability down the road.

From the outset, employers should be wary of discovering information about candidates through their social media profiles that might form the basis for employment discrimination in the hiring process.

This information can ultimately have legal repercussions with regard to antidiscrimination laws at the local, state and federal levels.

For instance, an applicant in Neiman v. Grange Mutual Casualty Co. overcame a potential employer’s motion to dismiss in an age discrimination suit by noting that his college graduation year was visible on his LinkedIn profile.

The court in that case agreed that the knowledge of the applicant’s date of college graduation was enough to put the employer on notice of the applicant’s age. The potential for such liability should prompt employers to review just how they use social media in the hiring process.

National Law Review

Use Social Media to Vet Candidates, Carefully

There’s a lot more to candidates than what they share with you during the recruitment process, and you may be able to discover more online.

Social media has opened up windows that never existed before. You just have to be careful which windows you look through.

By Charlie Smith

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