Wooooo….what's the scariest thing for HR this Halloween?

Oh I've got this nailed….a lawyer with your social media policy in their hand.

Haha! You think I jest, don't you? I'm not.  Not at all.  HR is running scared from Social Media.  And the lawyers are making them do it.  Bad for Corporate, outstanding for me.  (I'm in retained search, no rules remember? Just those moral ones I impose…)

I know, I know, you… like me…. are out on the Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook and God knows where else all day, every day.  Especially if you're sourcing.  But your HR department really really doesn't want to deal with you being out here.  They don't want to even think about what you're looking at, or when. And they're really struggling with how to build a social media policy.  And the lawyers are really just doing their job, making corporate HR painfully aware of the law, NLRB and the big loopholes a broad social media policy can create in favor of employees.  As part of the faculty for the Advanced Employment Issues Symposium (AEIS), I've listened to various presentations on employment law and social media and the thing that holds true in every single one? 90% of the slides are why employees shouldn't be on social media…leaving a measly 10% to justify the positives.  It's difficult for me to not spout off in those situations.

For several years now when I speak to people about sourcing on social media, I usually do a public service announcement about creating a social media policy.  I'll guide people to several different examples and one of my favorite resources is socialmediagovernance.com. It still is.  I'll also talk about my personal experience and I do own that in many cases that I am a poster child for why you need a social media policy, particularly from a corporate HR perspective – I've had the extreme opportunity of creating a personal online presence as sites like Twitter were born, and using that presence professionally as well as personally.  I tend to lean towards no policy, but lots of guidance.  I think that you can never assume people have common sense or good manners.  That you need to set expectations.  But what I learned at AEIS, and in particular from keynote Francine Esposito, is that as HR crafts these policies there are a few key take-aways:

  1. Tie y

    our Social Media policy and the things you won't condone – like harassment – into your existing policies in your employment manual.  Leave that language broad and you won't have a leg to stand on.

  2. Go read the NLRB decisions – as many as you can.  NLRB=National Labor Relations Board.  While you think NLRB only impacts employers with unions, it doesn't.  Some of the rulings coming out of these precedent setting cases are impacting non-union employers as well.  Best bet, create a Google alert and check on these daily.
  3. Make your team familiar with GINA.  GENA=Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.  This one tears me up, I tend to function with specific blinders on when I source and look for qualifications without inferences. It really ticks me off when people infer based on profile information. But GENA is around to protect employees that may be discriminated against because their family has a genetically transmitted condition.  It's as simple as I post on a profile pic on Facebook with me in a pink t-shirt for Breast Cancer awareness with writing that says “for Aunt Adeline”.  You didn't hire me after viewing my Facebook profile pic? Bad news for you my friend.
  4. If you have a social media recruiting initiative, turn on your brain.  The information on social media is really competitive intelligence and when recruiters are tweeting your jobs, and engaging with candidates, they need to be doing so from an account that is AEISKelly as opposed to SourcerKelly (which is tied to a personal email and has personal content).  And AEISKelly will be tied to a corporate email and the password logged with a social media gatekeeper.  Truly it's to protect your organization and helpful in keeping a finger on the pulse of where your recruiters, or anyone, are engaging on-line.

Scared? Exhausted?  Don't freak out.  What this really boils down to is conversations and creating a social media policy that is clear, concise and written in a common language every employee can understand so expectations are set.  It also means that you can't just let HR and recruiting fly on-line, a little care and education has to happen.

Hit me in the comments with your thoughts…


FOT Background Check

Kelly Dingee
Kelly Dingee is a Senior Manager, Global Talent Acquisition for Marriott International. She has extensive sourcing experience having worked for Staffing Advisors (retained search), AIRS (training!) and Thales Communications, Inc., (cleared/telecom) and got her start in the profession while a full life cycle recruiter at Acterna (now known as Viavi). Lucky for Kelly, she had a boss who could see the potential of sourcing candidates from the web, and in 1998, she stepped into a newly created sourcing role. No truth to the rumor that she has a side business to help you push your resume to the top of Google search results…


  1. KD says:

    Got a employee handbook? You don’t need a social media policy for anything other than account ownership and two other things:

    1. Use good judgement, and

    2. All that #@# in the handbook applies when you communicate via social media.

    That is it! Good post KD…

  2. Kes Thygesen says:

    It’s important for employees to use social media, especially from a branding and hiring perspective. If you’re running your business well, your employees should have great things to say about you and be able to provide prospective employees some insight into your culture. Social media also allows employees to refer people to your job openings. And we want employee referrals, right? Sure, add some clauses to your employee handbook or create a social media policy if you’re a larger organization. Otherwise, just be sensible.

  3. Kelly Dingee says:

    Awww… I love people who have rose colored glasses. I think social media “policies”, if you will, have to be in place to protect the employer…and the employee.

    Recruiters are prime examples. Defining what’s yours, and what’s mine, from the get-go of employment and SM usage is almost a Social Media Prenup. Separation of employees from employers in key areas where there’s any kind of competitive intelligence involved makes this an issue. Defining how you’re using Social Media as an employee – for example if I’m recruiting on Social Media do I suddenly become EmployerKelly instead of just SourcerKelly – can be a factor as well. And of course making sure people are well aware of content that can be shared.

    I spoke to an HR group in the spring, and one of the managers was absolutely livid because they had just found out that a recruiter that had been sent to all kinds of job fairs and asked to use social media to connect to candidates and was handed a LinkedIn Corporate Recruiter account (so the employer assumed all this intelligence would be theirs if the ee left) didn’t connect to s a single candidate via this idyllic employer set-up. They connected via their own personal accounts, walked away from their employer and took the names and contacts with them to start their own recruiting business. Ouch. Oh yeah, the employer had no social media policy in place. They do now.

    My reality is that this wasn’t/isn’t a policy with my current employer – we had a frank discussion before I was hired…but for those in more corporate and rule driven environments, social media needs to be addressed.

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