Why Recruiters Shouldn't Judge Candidates by Social Media Profiles

You do not have to clean up your social media profile to get a job. 

Look, I understand taking off the “I hate my boss” posts, the mug shot of your wild weekend in Vegas or the rants about your disdain for baby seals.

But the weekend pictures where you are having a beer or a glass of wine and a great time? Those funny cat memes? Where is the harm? 

Social networking sites have an intended purpose but most are created for people to share their experiences and to show a personal side. LinkedIn has a business focus but still encourages you to share professional information you enjoy. Facebook wants you to sync your life to the site. And Twitter is begging for a point-of-view.

As recruiters and HR professionals, we work hard to try to see the real side of candidates. Then we spend all this time and money to create the best culture in our organizations. Whether it’s the Monday morning conversations at Keurig machine talking to each other about what we did over the weekend or the lunchtime chats where we talk about what great party we attended or how many Appletini’s we downed, we believe that employees do best when they bring their authentic selves to work.

And as HR professionals, we attend the SHRM Annual Conference and have fun with our colleagues while posting pictures to Facebook and Twitter with our smartphones. If we can post pictures everywhere, why can’t our candidates?

We want to have fun and be the cool and hip kids on the block, but our backwards recruiting practices may not reflect that. I believe that if a candidate is confident enough to keep their personal Facebook or Twitter profile open and searchable to everyone, more power to them. That’s the kind of transparent, fun candidate who might be a good fit in my company.

HR and recruiting professionals walk a fine line when we pass judgment on what’s appropriate and inappropriate on social media profiles. Candidates and employees have been engaging in various types of sketchy behavior since the beginning of time. And some of what passes for sketch isn’t really sketchy at all. Are pictures of someone at a tailgate with a beer and brat in their hand while wearing their favorite team’s colors inappropriate? Guess I am an inappropriate candidate because my Facebook page is loaded with such images. 

Before the world became obsessed with social media, we interviewed and hired candidates based on abilities. For the most part, they succeeded. If there were issues, we addressed them. That used to be the job of the recruiter and HR generalist.

But with all of the information available today, HR tends to out-think itself.  We over-analyze Google search results and we are so afraid to take a risk that we actually run the risk of losing great candidates. We also forget to trust the tools that have gotten us to where we are today: solid interviewing questions, reference checking and background screening tools that are compliant with the FCRA. 

In the future, I would like to see HR offer more sound decisions in the hiring process instead of obsessing about social media. Use the strong skills you’ve built as a Human Resources professional. Don’t let social media be the main deal breaker for hiring that great candidate…unless they hate baby seals.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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