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The Power of Social Recruiting for Recruiters

Tuesday November 24th, 2015

Estimated time to read: 3 minutes

Social media has greatly impacted the way companies conduct business in all areas. Not only is social media becoming a customary method for marketing, job recruiters are also turning to these online networks to research candidates.


This method of screening has multiple names: social recruiting, online screening, data mining, identity research. Whatever your company chooses to call it, social screening is the process of using social networks to learn more about job candidates.


Online screening is becoming more popular with recruiters every year. In 2013, 39 percent of employers went to social networks to research their candidates, 43 percent did so in 2014, and this year, 52 percent of employers claim to use online screening.


A social network profile will reveal a lot about a person, and it is good practice to utilize online screening. However, social identity research should not become the most important factor in the recruitment process. After online screening has been conducted, be sure that you are following up with your candidates to further discuss their interests and to reasonably clarify any concerns.


Here are some tips to help social recruiting work for you and your organization.

Be aware of protected characteristics

Social media is often used by recruiters to review a candidate’s own public postings and accounts. However, this can quickly become a gray area if you aren’t careful. A court will assume that you are aware of a person’s “protected characteristics” that may be posted online when you review an applicant’s online profile.


Be aware that these characteristics are not always obvious when you are viewing a person’s profile. Protected characteristics include gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation and disability, and they may influence the types of posts made on their online profiles. For this reason, it is important to be careful not to expand your interview questions or decision-making beyond the legal limits of an interview.

Maintain consistency

If your company wants to utilize online screening, then it is vital that you develop consistent screening practices.


It may be more difficult to prove discrimination after an online screening, but not having a consistent screening practice may end up burning you. Be sure that you have clear, consistent practices when it comes to online screening so that you can stand up to scrutiny if you ever come under investigation.


Consistent screening practices will also help you to accurately compare candidates. Many candidates will begin cleaning up their online profiles once they are aware that employers are interested in them. For this reason, you ought to decide when you will be reviewing candidates’ profiles. Be sure that they are all being reviewed at the same point in the recruitment process (ex. before or after the candidate has been initially contacted).

Look for repetitive behavior

It can be tricky not to jump to conclusions or make snap judgments when you are looking at an applicant’s online profile. Before judging a post, look to see if the sentiment or behavior suggested of the post is repetitive or an isolated incident.


An isolated negative post is likely not a good indication of that person’s character, while repeated posts that suggest the same behavior/character trait could be a red flag.


This is not just true of negative behavior/traits. This rule can also be applied to positive traits. If you see something that you are looking for in a candidate, look to see if there are repetitive indicators that this is true of the candidate or if it may have been an isolated incident.

Find candidates who have built a brand

As Al Ries, marketing professional and author, has stated, “Any proper noun is a brand; you are a brand.” This means that your candidates have their own brands too.


For this reason, you want to look for people who have built strong brands for themselves. When reviewing applicants’ online profiles, look to see who is sharing content related to your industry. Pay close attention to see if they represent themselves in a professional manner and seem to share the same culture and values of your company.

Don’t penalize candidates with little online presence

It can be frustrating for recruiters when they don’t find all the information on an applicant that they would like. However, be careful not to penalize a candidate for keeping their private lives out of the public eye.


You may be tempted to assume that someone who keeps matters private has something to hide, but don’t. Rather, look at it in a positive light. Someone who keeps social presence limited to the public eye is likely a responsible manager of his or her online presence and may make a responsible employee.


Instead of ruling these candidates out right away, follow up with them. You may find that these applicants are just what your company seeks.


Online profiles are good resources to help you get to know a little bit more about your job candidates. Utilizing online screening can help you get a better understanding of who your applicants are. However, it is necessary to be careful when social recruiting. Be aware that although the methods of screening may be changing, the legal issues that are raised during screening are not.