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Facebook Screening of New Hires: Sound Strategy or Risky Business?

March 18, 2015

With about 1.15 billion monthly users, Facebook has become a major tool for job candidates and employers alike. Given the large number of active participants and the rich data available through Facebook, it’s no surprise that recruiters and hiring managers have taken notice.

Stories about how Facebook has influenced selection in the workplace have circulated online for years; in fact, one survey revealed that 44% of hiring managers mine candidate data using the website. Some users have taken advantage of the site by networking with employers and landing jobs. Others have been fired or deemed unfit for hire because of the content on their profile, and some have even had to relinquish personal Facebook account passwords to employers as a condition of their employment.

The use of Facebook for recruiting and hiring decisions isn’t necessarily new, but there is new research on the subject, and employers need to know about it. In a nutshell, the research says:

     If you are using Facebook to recruit or make any type of hiring decision, STOP!

Researchers asked 86 recruiters to review and rate 416 college seniors for employability based only on their Facebook profiles. A year later, the researchers followed up with the now-employed college grads’ supervisors to review their job performance, and the results might surprise you.

     Recruiter ratings of Facebook profiles did not correlate at all with job performance.

The study found that there is “essentially zero” correlation between Facebook profile ratings and job performance. As a result, employers using data from the website in many instances hired poor candidates and missed out on top performers.

     Serious legal issues may be in store for those who download Facebook data.

Using Facebook and other social profiles to make employment decisions might be considered illegal when equal employment laws are taken into account. Social profiles like those on Facebook often display information that employers cannot consider in making personnel decisions (e.g., age, gender, disabilities, ethnicity, religious beliefs, marital status, sexual orientation). Even if an employer isn’t guilty of showing preference, it would be difficult to argue that the information wasn’t a factor in the decision-making process.

Data gathered as part of this study showed that lowest ratings were given to profiles that contained things like profanity, pictures depicting heavy drinking or partying, unusual profile pictures, and sexually-related content. In addition, researchers found that profiles containing religious material and those that belonged to people who “had traditionally non-White names and/or who were clearly non-White” received some of the lowest ratings.  Females were consistently rated higher than males, suggesting another possible conflict between equal employment laws and social media recruiting.

The bottom line?: Caveat emptor! Several tools for selection have in recent years proven to be very predictive of post-hire performance, most notably background checks, pre-employment assessments, and behaviorally structured interviews.  Compared to strategies like reviewing Facebook and/or other social media data – which have now been shown to have no predictive value – these tools are increasingly seen by hiring managers as “must haves.”  Contact WorkSmart for more information on how these tools can be used to hire candidates similar to the high performers currently “starring” in your organization!

June 9, 2016

Many of us have worked with a bad boss in our lifetime. Remember the micro-manager, the yeller,  the softy, the one who’s never there, and/or the boss who takes all the credit for your work? We've all experienced trials and tribulations working under these leadership styles. "It’s frustrating," we say to ourselves, "but that's life." What if, though, we could somehow magically transform supervisors of this sort into competent, inspiring leaders?

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