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The Potential Pitfalls Social Media Can Cause For Recruiters

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Social media is a critical component in today’s world, not just in consumers’ everyday lives, but also in businesses’ hiring of potential candidates.  Whereas businesses once looked at paper resumes and considered on-site interviews to assess a candidate’s fit for a specific position, nowadays, they will often look toward social media to assess a potential candidate’s skill set, experiences, attitudes, strengths, and weaknesses to see if he/she fits an organization and its objectives.

Certainly, it is understandable why companies do this – social media is largely free to access for anyone, it provides changing, real-time information that a paper resume and on-site interview never could, and virtually every potential candidate is using social media in some way, shape, or form.  However, there is a potential pitfall lurking for recruiters that they must be aware of when using such information to hire or deny a potential candidate.

When recruiters use the information from a potential hire’s social media profile to deny him or her a position at a company, there is a slippery legal slope that can lead to complications.  If the recruiter denied a person based on his/her views (political, religious, environmental, etc.), that could lead to a discrimination lawsuit for a company, especially if the candidate had the necessary background and/or experience to handle the position.  This situation can especially be exacerbated if a candidate with less work experience and credentials is hired for the position instead.

 While a company should utilize all of the information it can to make a good hiring decision, candidates who are denied a position could potentially claim that non-relevant information on their social media profiles were the reason why they were passed over, particularly if the candidate who was hired has less work experience and/or skills for the same position.  Companies must be aware of this potential pitfall when utilizing social media information to evaluate candidates, or they could face legal challenges that could damage their profitability and/or reputation.

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