Recruiting via Social Networks = Discriminatory Hiring Practices. Oh Really?

Jessica Lee Diversity, Jessica Lee, Social Media, Social Recruiting

Guess what? It was only a matter of time before the lawyers were going to come in and say that social networks are bad for our health. Don’t use social networks to recruit! You’re going to discriminate! Disparate impact! Watch out!

Dunh, dunh, dunhhhhhhh. Cue the scary music. Lawsuits. Eeeek!

Go read this. It’s food for thought – the potential risks of using social networks to recruit. And in the article, you’ll see a lawyer who claims that using social networks to recruit is “ripe with risk for future discrimination claims.” Here’s the logic that we’ve been presented with in the Workforce article:

  • The economy has tanked therefore, companies are slashing recruiting budgets.
  • Social media is on the rise, and it’s cheap if not free – so companies are using social media to recruit in lieu of job boards.
  • Social networks are segmented and certain networks have audience demographics that skew one way or another – disparate impact may occur so be careful.

I see how it’s easy to arrive at this conclusion. But let’s think about this a bit more critically.

I wonder, how much are we thinking about the explosive growth of social networks? What about the penetration of social networks on a global basis? Are they really still that elite? Think about these recent numbers released by comScore:

  • Facebook experienced its highest growth rate in July 2009 – 87.7 million unique visitors in the US
  • Time spent on Facebook increased 36% in July, to a total of 15.
  • Twitter grew by 6% in July 2009 with 21.2 million unique visitors in the US
  • Time spent on Twitter increased 26% in July, to a total of 4.75 million minutes

And these are just two social networks. Read some more stats on how social networks are growing here. And the more social networks grow, won’t they become more and more diverse? I believe that.

Here’s what else I believe though. I also believe that recruiters and HR pros aren’t dummies. I don’t know of any recruiting and HR pros who can say confidently that social media for recruiting is precisely what has saved them and they are relying on it alone. Do you? Social media for recruiting isn’t the end-all, be-all. It’s a piece of the puzzle. For now, at least. And recruiters aren’t that foolish to rely on just social networks when only a certain segment of the population can be found on them. For now, at least.

So lawyers? Try and scare me. Go for it. But I’m calling foul on your claims. And give recruiters and HR pros a little more credit, will ya? MKayThanks.