As more people use social media, HR specialists and hiring managers are increasingly incorporating tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn into their recruiting strategy.
Some job candidates invite employers to view their profiles on social networks, hoping the information will help hiring managers see a more complete view of the real person beyond the resume and cover letter. And recruiters may do some scouting on LinkedIn and Twitter by searching for keywords related to the position they're trying to fill, then reaching out to top talent who may be passively searching for a job.
Although these networks can help hiring managers find new employees, there are definite pitfalls to avoid when developing a strategy for social media recruiting. Here are five common mistakes hiring managers make when using social media to evaluate job candidates:
1. Thinking social media recruiting is risk-free
When you look at candidates' profiles, you might become aware of protected information that you wouldn't dare ask about in an interview, such as gender, age, race, religion, marital status, sexual orientation or disability. Candidates have sued companies because they believe they were rejected for a job based on content posted on their online profiles.
When searching for talent online, make sure that you do the same searches for every candidate, and consider waiting until after you've done an initial face-to-face interview. Your legal department can also provide insight on navigating potential issues in using social media tools and applications in the hiring process.
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2. Thinking it can outweigh interpersonal interaction
This is one of the biggest mistakes of all. Social media efforts should augment, not replace, traditional one-on-one contact, such as outreach to potential candidates through in-person networking events and relationships built with reputable recruiters.
The quality of a candidate's interpersonal skills are increasingly important to businesses, even in non-customer-facing positions. Teamwork and the need to communicate with others throughout the company has risen in importance even in the digital age. As a result, hiring managers need to understand how individuals will mesh with the organization and its workplace culture. These aren't attributes an employer can accurately evaluate on a Facebook or LinkedIn page.
3. Being quick to judge
Managers who judge potential hires too harshly based on what they discover online run the risk of unintentionally eliminating skilled candidates. You wouldn't hire someone based solely on the fine prose of a well-written cover letter, so you shouldn't reject a candidate just because you raised an eyebrow at the content posted on his or her profile.
Generation Y and Z candidates, who are particularly active on social media, tend to be comfortable with having their personal and professional lives overlap on the Internet. Hiring managers need to be aware as they engage in social media recruiting that some job seekers may share personal information about themselves online more freely than other professionals.
It's also important to be aware that some people spend more time on networking sites than others. Passive candidates who aren't currently looking for a job but would be open to discussing new opportunities with the right company may not look like they're job hunting on LinkedIn. Don't disregard a candidate just because their profile is minimal or not up-to-date.
4. Not recognizing the time commitment
Networking sites are communities, which means it can take months to build relationships with users. Keep in mind, too, that the language and customs used by members might be opaque to outsiders. Hiring managers and HR recruiters who go into Twitter, Facebook or other social media without considering the time commitment involved in forming useful relationships may not get the results they hoped for.
Especially when making cold contacts with talent located online, recruiters should be aware it isn't a one-and-done situation. Taking time to study how people interact and prefer to be contacted is essential when recruiting.
5. Forgetting to update your own social media profiles
Social networking is a two-way street. Is your company keeping its profiles up-to-date? At the very least, your company's pages on LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites should include accurate contact information and confirm that you are an Equal Opportunity Employer. You could also take the time to share information about your company culture and the benefits of working there. If your industry is one where professionals are active online, you should post your job listings on your page — that lets qualified candidates come to you.
While joining the social media space is relatively easy, it is not the magic bullet many hiring managers might have hoped. The most successful recruiting efforts rely on a combination of resources that include both high-tech and high-touch approaches.