Social Media and Access to Personal Information
With the advent of Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others, many people post so much personal information about themselves that anybody who can access their public profiles can get to know a lot about them. Indeed, with an estimated one Billion people on Facebook, information is right there for the asking.
The recruitment teams in many organizations are increasingly turning to Social Media to screen and process potential employees’ applications. Given that such job seekers post their personal details on these sites, the thinking among the HR (Human Resources) personnel is that social media would be extremely useful to verify the details in the resume as well as to find out if the candidate is faking such details. This has led to concerns about privacy as well as worries that the rights of the candidates would be infringed upon.
Background Checks and Social Media
It is the case in many organizations in the United States and elsewhere to conduct stringent background checks that include checking whether the candidate has any criminal complaints against him or her, checking if the candidate has taken drugs by making them undergo a mandatory medical test that checks for traces of narcotic substances, and also calling up people known to him or her and whose names have been given as references. Indeed, many Wall Street Banks do insist on these background checks including checking for substance abuse and this is the reason why many graduates who are about to complete their education are circumspect about their activities in the run-up to the placement season and after that. This is also the case with many Asian companies that hire dedicated agencies to conduct extensive background checks on prospective employees.
How HR Managers use Social Media to collect Information about Candidates
While these background checks do yield much information, recruiters and HR managers are now turning to social media since most Millennials post information about their rave parties, photographs of whom they have been with, and what they have been doing. This treasure trove of information that is available on social media sites is indeed a boon to the HR managers who at the click of a button can access the profiles of the candidates. Further, many organizations in the United States now collect details about social media accounts of their existing as well as potential employees. Though there are some states that have passed laws prohibiting such practices, many candidates for fear of losing a good career opportunity especially in the present job market where jobs are scarce, provide such details to the HR managers. For the organizations, it works cheaper to run a check on the candidates social media accounts since all they have to do is to lookup the information.
The Pros of Using Social Media to Collect Information
The pros of such an approach are that candidates with unsavory pasts can be weeded out without too much hassle. Given that in the United States, there are many graduates who ensure that such details about their past are airbrushed from their resumes as well as details of convictions, credit history, and other aspects are hidden from the public, checking social media is indeed a cost effective as well as efficient option for the employers. In addition, it is easier for the HR managers to find out information related to education, past employment, places of residence, and other details on social media as most profiles have these basic details captured. Further, if such candidates post links to news stories, express their opinions on the issues of the day, as well as participate in discussions, it is easier for the HR managers to know the political views of such candidates and ensure that anyone with extremist and extreme views can be weeded out.
The Cons of Such an Approach
Having said that, the use of social media for recruitment purposes has raised the hackles of human rights and labor groups as they feel that this is nothing more than outright infringement on the basic rights to privacy and liberty. Their contention is that using social media to ferret out information about candidates is similar to placing them under surveillance. Given that there are plans for the Congress and the Senate to pass laws prohibiting such collection of information from social media, the HR managers should not be allowed to access such information. Indeed, there are many candidates who have refused to provide such information about their social media accounts or if they have done so, ensure that their profiles are scrubbed off any information that can be used against them. In addition, in the United States, there are laws that prohibit the presentation of such information as evidence in courts and hence, this is also cited in these cases.