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Business Ethics

The Compliance Risks of Using Social Media for Recruiting

Jul 19, 2016

social media recruiting

How Many Organizations are Using Social Media for Recruiting?

Social media is making it easier than ever for job-seekers and hiring managers to connect. These days there is a Facebook group or a Meetup Group for just about every industry.

As more and more people create LinkedIn accounts, it only makes sense for HR professionals to use it for recruiting. You have to go where the people are to find the best candidates for open positions.

And more and more companies are jumping on the the social media bandwagon. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released the results of its survey on using social media for talent engagement and discovered:

  • Recruiting via social media is growing with 84 percent of organizations using it currently and 9 percent planning to use it.
  • For most organizations (81 percent), social media was one out of many recruiting tools used, but 5 percent said it was their primary recruiting tool.
  • Recruiting passive job candidates (82 percent) continues to be the top reason that organizations use social media for recruitment.
  • Overall, 43 percent of organizations said they use social media or online search engines to screen job candidates.
  • Forty-four percent of HR professionals agreed that a job candidate's public social media profile can provide information about work-related performance.
  • Over one-third (36 percent) of organizations have disqualified a job candidate in the past year because of concerning information found on a public social media profile or through an online search.

While social media has become a great tool for recruiting, it doesn’t come without any risks.

The Risks of Using Information Gathered from Social Media

There’s no doubt HR professionals and hiring managers can dig up valuable information about applicants from their social media profiles, but they can also stumble on other kinds of information that put their organization at risk.

In fact, while looking for insights into the applicant’s job performance, the background check might also reveal details about their private lives—which becomes a problem when it’s related to a protected category.

Because just like in interviews where you can’t ask questions relating to protected categories (race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information), you can’t rely on the information gathered from social media either.

And it becomes a major risk area when a hiring manager stumbles upon information, such as a candidate’s age or religion, that can’t be “unseen,” but can be called into question when asked to prove the reason why a certain applicant wasn’t selected for the position.

Tips for Avoiding the Social Media Compliance Risks When Screening Applicants

Hiring managers need to be aware of the potential risks of social media when it comes to using social media to screen applicants. That’s why it’s important that your company has a social media policy, and that you provide social media compliance training to all your employees.

Hiring managers should also:

  • Never let hiring decisions be influenced even in part by membership in a protected class discovered through social media
  • Make hiring decisions based only on verifiably accurate information. Bear in mind social media posts can be false or misleading
  • Use the same social media screening protocols for all applicants


Social media can be a great tool for reaching out to and conducting background screenings on potential employees; however, it can also increase your compliance risks. To protect your company, make sure your hiring managers have a thorough understanding of your company’s social media policies and their responsibilities.

And don’t forget to provide all hiring managers and employees with training. To learn more about our social media compliance training, request a demo today.

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