Is What a Candidate Posts On Social Off Limits to Employers?

Kristina Finseth

 

One in five employers have rejected candidates because of their online activity, according to Recruitment Grapevine. On top of that, the research showed that employers are checking LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and they are turned off by aggressive or offensive behavior, and even poor grammar and spelling,

As a former recruiter, I can tell you that nine times out of ten – I’ve Googled a candidate, and checked out their social media profiles. I can also tell you that I’ve never found something on a social media profile that turned me off of a candidate, or drove me to drop them out of the recruiting process.

Some experts will tell you that it puts your company at risk if you disqualify a candidate based on something you view as negative on their social media profile. Others will argue that the information a candidate shares publicly on social media is just that – public – and in essence, it’s fair game for employers to determine fit within the company.

The real question shouldn’t be around whether an employer should make a hiring decision based on a candidate’s social media profiles. More importantly, the question is whether you should care what your candidates are posting on social media?

Let me lay out both sides of the argument.

Yes, you should care. Depending on the type of position you are trying to hire for in your company, a candidate’s social media activity can give you a deeper glimpse into the person behind the resume. If you’re looking to hire someone who is client-facing or a highly visible role, you probably should be concerned if you find one of these on a candidate’s social media profile:

  • Photos or videos that are provocative or offensive
  • Proof of questionable activities such as drug use
  • Profanity aimed at race, gender, religion, or even sexual orientation
  • Use of poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and other communication errors
  • Huge discrepancy in job history on resume versus social profile

Although only 21 percent of hiring managers aren’t actually looking for reasons not to hire a candidate, 53 percent want to see if a candidate has a professional online persona. Other hiring managers just want to see what other people are saying about a candidate (like LinkedIn recommendations).

No, you shouldn’t give a crap. In today’s digital world, candidates live on social media – and so do companies looking to recruit them. Unless a candidate’s social media activity shows they are part of a demonic cult, shoplifting on the weekends for fun, or doing keg stands on their lunch breaks – you can’t really get bent out of shape over what you see as you source for talent or review an applicant.

Culture fit is important to most companies, but you also want to be sure that the person you are looking to hire has a personality. Here’s a few things you shouldn’t really care about if you come across it on a candidate’s profile:

  • Photos of them having drinks with friends on Facebook
  • Tweets about their political beliefs and opinions
  • Engaging in a healthy debate with another person on a post or thread
  • Using emojis, abbreviations, and other creative communication methods

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What do you think? Should employers really care what a candidate is posting on social media?