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Using Facebook to screen job applicants - what are the pros & cons?

Answers

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

I see this question a lot. I still fail to understand what value you will find about someone on facebook. Unless you are looking to answer the illegal hiring questions about how many children they have, what their relationship status is, if they have any medical issues they are talking about with their friends, whether they play online games and smoke pot.

If these are the questions you are seeking to answer then I suppose facebook is the place you should spend all your time.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

I disagree. For any potential hire, I believe a social media search is warranted. It is very relavant indeed. If you hold value in recommendations and endorsements from Linked-in, you must also hold value in items that you find questionable. Caution - states are developing positions on this issue. Do review any applicable legislative position, prior to any documented denial of employment for reasons associated with what you find posted.

Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

I agree, Regis. One of the most difficult hiring decisions - and one which is routinely flunked - is hiring to culture fit. Social media allows a much more well-rounded picture of potential candidates than a paper resume does.

Even Spencer Stuart has ceased collecting resumes and is using Linkedin as a sourcing tool for reviewing candidate's backgrounds / profiles. That should send a huge message about the social media trend in hiring.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I think a potential con is who their friends are. I do not have Facebook, so I do not have this issue on Facebook, but my wife has "friends" that she doesn't know too well that post things that are not worthy of reading. "Friends" on Facebook should not be used to determine the type of person the potential candidate is. On Twitter you can choose who you follow, but not who follows you, unless you're privacy setting are set up that way. Facebook is different in that whoever you declare as friend, is considered a "friend".

Twitter can much more revealing. But is not used as much as Facebook.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

I would add to differentiate between B2B and B2C social media. To Cindy's point linkedin is invaluable for B2B; I see Facebook from as B2C / retail social media ...

Ted Monohon
Title: VP -Finance / Controller
Company: Fantex
(VP -Finance / Controller, Fantex) |

Using Facebook for screening job applicants is only setting your company up for EEOC and discrimination complaints. You are expanding the pool of non-objective information to base your decision on. It won't matter if you actually used the information from Facebook in your decison making process. The simple fact that it is there for you to see is enough to start trouble if you are found to be viewing FB for the hiring process. You have age, martial status, immigration status (possibly), sexual orientation (possibly), religious views (possibly). These are land mines waiting to explode and you don't even need to step on them to have them go off. If you are using LinkedIn, your HR department should be scrubbing any non-relevant information from the profile before giving this to the hiring manager / interviewer. There are so many other legal ways to screen for cultual fit. FB an LinkedIn are lazy and dangerous ways to take.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Good comments! This is obviously my opinion... We have in the past ran a Google Search on applicants, which will bring up if they have a FB page or LinkedIn page and sometimes other valuable information about a person. Is it risky? It certainly can be, but ultimately we are running a business and if you have a very specific culture like we do and we run a Google Search and your FB picture is one of you wearing a scantily clad outfit (as your profile picture) - we may take that into consideration. Any professional person concerned with their image should not be flaunting inappropriate photo's (as one example) of them selves all over the internet. To Ted's point we as business professionals have to very concerned with the EEOC and improper hiring practices, however I walk the fine line of saying; I can choose not to hire someone based on something inappropriate I saw on FB and choose to tell them we ended up hiring someone else for the position that had more experience.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

A company I worked for previously hired a Controller without doing total due diligence. They started checking the person's references. One of the references told the company's CFO to run a search on this person's name and previous state of residency. Thanks to this reference, the company found out that the person they had just hired was in trouble for skimming and other fraud at one of their previous employers. A new controller came on board immediately after this revelation.

I recommend doing a web search on ourselves to see what is out there. If something unfavorable is posted either by or about me, I know I need to work in getting it resolved. Damage control, if you will.

Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Reputation management is key today, something Gen Y and X are still learning. However, the other key is privacy controls. You can choose to participate in social media without letting every single detail of your life exposed to the public.

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