Are recruiters rejecting candidates because of what they post online? According to this survey of 300 recruiters (infographic above), the answer is yes.
This didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was how many – 69% – admitted to rejecting a candidate because of what they found. I think it’s been an unspoken, and even frowned upon, practice for a recruiter to look for evidence of inappropriate photos, drinking, drugs, and other non-work related information as part of the screening process.
We invited Les Rosen, an attorney from background check company, ESR, to speak to a group of recruiters here in Seattle about legal risks associated with making hiring decisions based on what you find on social media sites. What I recall most from that session was the risk of mistaken identity and the opportunity to discriminate based on a protected class status.
- How does a recruiter know that what he finds on a social media site was truly published by this person?
- What if the candidate has a very common name, like Jane Smith? How does a recruiter know that he found the right Jane Smith?
- What if the account is shared by multiple people? How does he know who wrote what?
- What if their account was hacked?
- What if the candidate posted something sarcastic on a site they thought was only accessible by their close friends, but Facebook changed the privacy settings and/or user error led to that comment being more public than what they intended?
- What if a recruiter learns a candidate’s age, race, religious background, national origin, sexual preference, marital status or something else that’s protected (presence of a disability)? How does his employer prove they/he didn’t take that into consideration when making a hiring decision?
Don’t get me wrong. Candidates can sabotage their chances of landing a good job by employing poor judgment online, and perhaps it’s well deserved. But I wonder whether employers are aware that – according to this survey – recruiter use of this source to reject candidates is so high? And if so, how they’re thinking about the risks associated with using this information to make hiring decisions.
As candidates and employees sue employers – and recruiters?! – over the coming years, we’ll have more and more case law to dictate what can and can’t be used. Until then, it’s a risk – for employers and candidates.
What are your thoughts? If this information should be used, how should it be used?