Guide To Using Social Networking Sites In Employment Decisions

According to Facebook® official records, many organizational personnel are already subscribers – for example, 30,000 employees from Microsoft®, 33,000 employees from IBM®, and 20,000 employees from Accenture®.

More and more employers are tempted to use social networking sites like MySpace,® Twitter®, FaceBook® etc as part of the employment screening process.

Just searching Google® or other search engines will often bring up a reference to an individuals name.
Of course, the information may be entirely false.

What about information posted by an ex spouse or ex boyfriend/girlfriend that is exaggerated at the very least if not an outright lie?

Clearly, use of information discovered through these channels is not without risk and should be dealt with very carefully if used at all.

Consider the following issues that arise when using these venues.

What if legally prohibited information is disclosed?

Often included in these social networking pages is information regarding religion, sexual orientation, ethnic and birth information that could never be included on a compliant job application.

Photographs of the individual that are often a part of these personal web sites may reveal information about disabilities that would never be permitted under the ADA and other Federal and state employment laws.

Moreover, there is often no way for an applicant to even defend themselves regarding such information and no mechanism exists to correct information that is wrong.

One can not help but be amazed at the poor judgment exercised by so many people in posting pictures and information about themselves that can be viewed derisively by so many people.

I am reminded of a commentary by a business school instructor. When he advised his students that many prospective employers would not approve of their tattoos, nose rings and other visible body modifications, the inevitable response was “That’s not fair”.

Maybe not, but it is certainly true.

Using social networking sites can sometimes identify a good candidate that is just what the recruiter or Human Resources manager is looking for, but the use of these sites for employment screening may not be a practice you would want to explain or defend in a courtroom setting.

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