Using Social Media Profiles of Job Applicants for Hiring Decisions

The Advantages of using Information about Job Applicants from Facebook Profiles

In recent years, there has been a noticeable trend among HR professionals to check the information supplied by a job applicant by comparing it with the information available on his or her Social Networking Websites or SNWs profile. While this trend first become apparent in the West and in the United States in particular, it is catching on in the rest of the world as well where recruiters turn to the SNWs profiles of job applicants to verify and seek information about the candidates. Indeed, this trend is both welcome and worrisome as there are potential legal and ethical implications not to mention privacy and security issues. The trend is welcome because the recruiters have a need to know all the information about job applicants’ background and suitability especially for sensitive jobs where the job applicant needs to be totally “clean”. Further, the trend is welcome because employers can escape the negligent hiring charges that of late have become common in the US. This means that the recruiters can glean information from the SNWs profiles of the job applicants and if there are any serious character or integrity issues, they can spot them right away.

The Disadvantages of using Information about Job Applicants from Facebook profiles

However, the trend of using the Social Networking Websites (SNWs) profiles of job applicants is worrisome, as the recruiters do not have the legal basis of using such profiles without the consent of the job applicants. Further, the recruiters run the risk of being unethical in their approach as well as “lazy” in their recruiting process if they take the information from the SNWs profiles of the job applicants. Apart from this, the job applicants can be discriminated on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, and other characteristics.

Moreover, the privacy and the sanctity of information that job applicants post on their Facebook and SNWs profiles is compromised. There is also the risk of security as once the recruiters get access to the profiles, information can be hacked by third parties and leaked which means that there are many implications to this practice. Therefore, it is in the interest of all parties if there are proper safeguards that are drawn up to protect both the parties and this process is followed diligently. This means that the recruiters cannot access the SNWs profiles of the candidates without their consent and the job applicants are aware of their rights and disadvantages of posting personal details on their profiles.

What Recruiters can do and how Job Applicants need to Wary

We have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of recruiters accessing the SNWs profiles of the job applicants. Taking the discussion further, it is advisable for job applicants to be aware of the fact that in the present information age, any details about themselves and their friends can be accessed by anyone and hence, they must be careful about the kind of information that they put out on the big bad World Wide Web.

Further, for many positions in the US, job applicants are required to undergo a narcotics test, which means that they would be medically tested for traces of any narcotic substances in their bodies. Therefore, a strong world of caution to the job applicants is that they better not reveal what they did last summer especially when they are applying for highly competitive jobs. For recruiters, the word of advice is that they rely on the traditional route of background checks by independent agencies and not only on the SNWs profiles of the job applicants to base their hiring decisions. Finally, whether the information is private or whether it has been obtained illegally and unethically, the fact that such information exists in the internet domain is cause enough for concern.


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Human Resource Management