How to Think about Social Data

large-free-social-media-vector-icons-580x424I recently had the opportunity to review Dice’s Open Web product which I wrote about yesterday.  I found it to be a great addition to the recruiter’s toolkit as it provides access to a much wider pool of potential candidates by making it incredibly easy to search in the social realm.

This certainly meets a need and saves time because, let’s face it, recruiters and HR ladies with a new Open Req on their desk are usually doing some sort of Google search, LinkedIn search, or trolling on social sites anyway.  It does, however, remind us how important it is for organizations to have defined policies/procedures for their use of social media profile information in the recruiting stage.  As unsexy as it may be it’s still critically important for HR professionals to manage risk and liability while balancing that with the benefits to be gained from interacting with and sourcing candidates via social channels.

Open Web LogoThere are many of my HR colleagues who continue to believe, very adamantly, in the need to keep personal and professional personas separate – both for themselves and for their candidates.  They really have no interest in viewing a applicant’s social footprint nor do they wish to cross the streams and engage with candidates via sites that are perceived as more personal (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr come to mind).  When reviewing applications these HR practitioners are the first to say that the only things of importance are professional skills and work experience…the corporate hiring equivalent of name, rank and serial number.

Does this mean HR professionals should never interact and connect with candidates or applicants online?  Does it mean they should never consider the ‘whole person’ when evaluating the importance of cultural fit, motivation and interests when contemplating moving someone along in the hiring process or extending an offer?  Of course not; in my mind that’s just plain foolish.

They can, however, be smart and purposeful by keeping a few key points front and center:

  • HR professionals and recruiters who research candidates or view candidates’ online social media information, even if public, should be aware that the information once seen cannot become ‘unseen.”  (note – the Open Web data is pulled from billions of web pages, all of which is public information readily available). There are certainly pieces of information that may be gathered by reviewing SM profiles that would be considered protected category information such as race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, physical or mental disabilities or medical conditions.  While this information could, and quite often does, come out during conversational chit chat in an interview, being aware of it earlier means the recruiter must make sure that screening/selection processes do not have an adverse impact on individuals in protected categories.
  • It’s advantageous to fully define which employer representative should be viewing social media profiles; for example, removing the Hiring Manager (ultimate decision maker) from this process and instead having the Recruiter who has been trained in how to use this information be the one who views social profiles. It’s a plus within the Dice product that when forwarding a candidate’s resume to a Hiring Manager only the resume moves forward; the Hiring Manager does not see the links to Open Web.
  • Employers who are government contractors and subject to E.O. 11246 must also ensure that their policies and procedures fall in line with OFCCP record keeping requirements in regards to the “Internet Applicant” definitions. As always, they should refer to DOL guidelines and/or get legal guidance with any questions in this area.

This is certainly not Dice’s first rodeo and I’m fairly certain that customers have access to guidance and best practices on how to appropriately manage candidate data; the customer dashboard I worked with had a treasure trove of information and links to resources.

But even if one is not using this platform the above tips are pertinent to anyone traversing this brave new world of internet and social recruiting.  We all remember the Uniform Guidelines/UGESP (HR 101) … right?  Right?

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