Social Media Plays Large Role in Rejections

Posted January 22, 2016 by Mary McGinley

In a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it was found that 36 percent of employers surveyed indicated that a candidate was rejected because of information found on public or social media sites that indicated illegal activity or discrepancies in an applicant’s information.

Approximately 43 percent of HR professionals in 2015 said that they did make use of public social media or online searches to screen job applicants. This figure is up from just 33% in 2013. Of those surveyed, some 44% said that a job candidate’s public social media profile can provide information about work-related performance.

According to Les Rosen, an attorney and the CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a background screening firm based in the San Francisco area, “Unlike traditional hiring tools such as interviews and contacting past employers, social media sites hold out the promise of revealing the ‘real’ job applicant.”

Many companies do have policies of reviewing an applicant’s social media and online life before making a hiring decision. Some will allow a candidate to explain any information found online that is of concern regarding activities that either show or infer illegal activity or show a discrepancy in what is on their job application. Recently, applicants do include links to their social networking profiles on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn on their own resumes.

“The problem is that sophisticated job applicants know employers are looking at their online presence, so applicants are increasingly putting up security protection and more importantly, creating marketing pages they are hoping employers will find in order to extoll their own virtue,” Rosen said. “In many ways a social media search of a candidate is like an IQ test—if a candidate is so dense that they say harmful things on a public website where they identify themselves, they are probably not the best candidate. Social media continues to be very valuable to find passive candidates for recruiters, but much less valuable to screen candidates before hiring.”

For those companies that use online or social media presence in order to screen applicants, 28 percent indicated that they do this before an interview while 29 percent will wait until after conducting the interview. Some organizations, however, say that this type of screening varies by job level.

While it may appear that it is a good practice to vet potential employees through such online searches, it pays to be careful. Sometimes the information found online can present legal concerns, inaccurate information and concern about privacy. Employers really have no way of knowing, however, if the Internet activity of applicants is accurate. Facebook is a site designed to interact with friends. Sometimes people tend to exaggerate or embellish the truth. Other applicants may run a different profile just to keep compromising information out of sight to potential employers. While it might go against real name policies implemented on sites such as Facebook, Linked in and other sites, it doesn’t prevent it from happening.

If someone doesn’t get an interview based on things found on social media, it can prove to be problematic. If it can be proven that an applicant’s race, creed, color, nationality, marital status, health issues or any other reason was used to keep them from being considered, it can prove to be a legal headache. That is why employers need to document everything that was used in a hiring decision.

At Einstein HR, we are committed to providing service and screening above and beyond what our clients expect. We provide all level of services to help you in your HR and PEO decisions and we can help your organization as well. Contact us today to find out how.