Thank you to everyone who attended our seminar this morning on Social Media Best Practices in Recruiting, Sourcing and Hiring! For those of you who missed it, we thought we’d share some of the highlights from the presentation as well as some take-aways.
What did we talk about? The assumption we made (which turned out to be true) was that most everyone in the audience uses social media in some way during the advertising, recruiting, vetting or hiring process. Ignoring that reality – whether from a legal or a human resources perspective is not the right answer. We, therefore, explored the following questions:
- Where/how are companies using social media to advertise open positions?
- Where/how are HR folks, staffing companies, and recruiters using social media to find applicants and candidates?
- How are people using social media to vet applicants and candidates and when in the process does this happen?
- What are the legal risks and implications that apply at each stage of the hiring process?
- And lastly, what are some best practices you can implement to help mitigate legal risk?
For those of you who want to get straight to the answers – the best practices – what did we suggest? Our key takeaway in the seminar was to be planful and consistent. Put in the effort up front to think about and plan how you will use social media in the hiring process, to avoid (hopefully) legal risk later on down the line. (You will note that this is very similar to advice we have given previously about being planful and thoughtful about your social media strategy and policies before encouraging employees to jump into social media on your behalf!)
For the advertising and searching stage of the hiring process, our best practices include:
- Plan which websites you will use to advertise and search for applicants/candidates. Which websites will reach individuals who have the education and skills you’re looking for? Are there other websites which will help you reach a more diverse audience, such as websites targeting racial or ethnic minorities, women, the disabled, or veterans? What traditional methods of advertising and recruiting are still effective?
- Once you have your plan in place, follow it consistently.
- Track and measure success. If you’re plan is not working, tweak it.
Following these steps will help you have a thoughtful and consistent process, which is always a good thing.
For the screening and vetting process, we talked about many of the same best practices - come up with a plan, follow the plan, and track whether it’s successful. Part of your plan should consider things like:
- Why are you using social media to screen applicants? What’s your legitimate business reason? Googling applicants just because you’re curious isn’t necessarily the best idea, but looking at someone’s social media profile may be a great idea if you’re hiring someone who will be in charge of social media for your organization.
- If you’re going to use social media to vet applicants, who’s going to do it? Are you going to hire an outside agency or are you going to do it “in-house”. We talked about the pros and cons with each approach.
- When in the hiring process are you going to run social media checks on applicants/candidates? Right after they send in an application or not until you’ve given them a conditional offer of employment?
- Where and how are you searching – which sites will you look at, and which will you not?
- What are you looking for? What negative information will you consider, what positive information will you consider? What steps can you put in place to avoid considering protected information (like race, gender, age, and other protected classes as well as protected medical or genetic information, etc.)?
You should have an answer to each of the questions above - preferably in writing, in the form of a policy or procedure that you can rely upon if someone ever questions your plan. Having a plan and following it consistently sounds like a lot of work (and perhaps it is), but what is the old cliche about “an ounce of prevention …” ?
We know that many best practices we talked about this morning sound great in theory, but end up colliding with the practical realities of the workplace. We get it. (For example, it is easy for us to say – post your positions in places where you are likely to reach veterans or the disabled – but finding those sites may take time.) The message we’re trying to convey is that the more you can strive to create best practices for your organization, the more likely you will be to avoid legal pitfalls. Being planful and consistent in your approach to hiring is important and will serve you well.