Latest Tidbits

12/10/13: Friend or Foe?

Friend or Foe?
By: Katie Kuehner-Hebert Talent Management Magazine November 2013
Recruiters and outside experts alike said it’s paramount to find the right balance when using social media so employers can continue to attract and engage highly sought-after candidates through networking, but not in ways that infringe upon the candidates’ rights or expose employers to potential liability.

More than a dozen states have enacted laws banning employers from demanding Facebook used names and passwords. Many of the state laws exempt cases in which employers have a legitimate business reason to do so, such as a police departments or financial institution investigating whether candidates have committed a theft or other crime.
“Employers connecting to a candidate’s social media page, or researching the candidate on the Internet, do so at their own peril – even if the candidate requests it,” he said. “Such searchers increase the risk that a spurred candidate, seeking for an explanation n lack of qualifications, could accuse the employer of discrimination.”

Examples of protected categories that could be implicated by Internet searches include physical and mental disabilities, medical conditions, political activities, sexual lifestyles, marital status, race and ethnicity.

“In addition, information found online often has little relevance as to job-related qualifications. Thus, employers should proceed with caution in this area,” he said. “And it they do use the Internet to evaluate candidates, they need to be prepared to offer a documented, job-related reason as to why the candidate was not selected.

“I have accepted ‘friend’ requests from candidates, but I never communicated via the news feed. I send a private message to the candidate instead. On Facebook I’m not concerned about liability because candidates freely reach out to me. I post a job, and candidates respond. I use it strictly for marketing, and I always keep it professional.
“Recruiting is an art form, so I first contact an employee who is connected to a potential candidate where I have a connection, to see if that person would be a good culture fir for our organization.”

“Sometimes it’s easier for candidates to communicate through Facebook… LinkedIn makes people jump through hooks and move through their messaging site to make contact.”