Reviewing Applicant’s Social Media Profiles? Maybe It’s Time to Check Your Ethics

Kelly Dingee HR, Selection, Seth Godin, Web/Tech

I’m still a fan of the frebinar and recently listened in on one via Paycor’s Web Summit focused on How to Give Your Candidates An Out of This World Experience presented by Melissa Dern and Melinda Canino. Inevitably during a frebinar there’s a Q&A section, sometimes live, sometimes sort of canned. One of the final questions of the day came from an attendee noting that their hiring team was regularly reviewing applicants social media profiles as part of the hiring process.

What is this? 2010? I mean this just happened.

This is a No. A big No. Do not search social media profiles of your applicants. And even better, tell your hiring managers it’s a No too. Empathically No. To me it’s stalkerish, ironic yes, coming from a career sourcer. It’s also a big ethics issue. Let me equate it for you….if you haven’t submitted your social media profiles as an example of your work product and I rifle through it with the intent of finding something to disqualify you, that’s wrong. Way wrong. It’s like I said, “hey Jane applied for this job, let’s stop by her house when she’s not home and it’s unlocked and search it for something that might, just might give us a reason to not hire her.”

Wrong. And it’s why your candidates will feel violated when you voyeuristically tip-toe through their social media looking for reasons to knock them out of consideration. You review and evaluate and give them no opportunity to explain. This isn’t like typos on a resume when a job requires attention to detail.

How could it be right to review a candidate’s social media profiles, both personal and professional? How could companies ethically take a look at someone’s social media? It’s time to level the playing field if you or your hiring managers insist on this tactic. Include in the BQ’s or at the very least a notation within your preferred qualifications, that social media profiles both professional and personal, will be reviewed. Or….make it a standard statement on your application. Something akin to “Our Company is pretty uptight, so we’re going to look at your social media….clean it up if you’d like to be considered”.

Well maybe not that, but you get my meaning. Be fair by letting the candidates know that anything they say, do or photograph on social media can and will be held against them in their job search with you.

If you’re not going to do that, be really transparent about reviewing applicant’s social media profiles. Then don’t do it. And don’t let your hiring managers do it. How do you stop the Hiring Managers? Training. Regular required training. Put it on your requisition submission form, and set the behavior bar with a reminder that “Our Company does not review social media profiles of applicants prior to hire unless it is part of the documented qualifications (basic or preferred). We will not disqualify applicants based on this information”.

Or…..just don’t do it. Don’t endorse it, don’t support it and be ready to confront offending members of your hiring team. Be the HR of the future, and drop the Big Brother mojo. Let a person’s application actually stand on their qualifications and references.  Background check the heck out of them to make sure they’re good people. 

Big thanks to Paycor for creating their Web Summit. Lots of great content out there, you should check it out. And full disclosure, my mad tweets won a pair of airpods!