Yesterday we heard from Randal Cole, a lawyer specializing in employment law on what you can and cannot do with social media recruiting. Today, more from him on timing and technique—and review and restraint.
Timing and Technique
Timing matters: Only conduct social media reviews after interviewing each prospective employee. Prescreening may potentially influence an interviewer against certain candidates, as well as leave the company vulnerable to accusations of bias. In cases where troubling social media content is discovered, the best course of action is to discuss the issue with the candidate or conduct a subsequent follow-up interview. If there are any questions or concerns, now is the time to consult with trusted counsel (preferably an experienced labor and employment law attorney who understands the legal and procedural complexities of using social media for hiring and reviews).
Review and Restraint
Finally, be sure to stay true to your company’s established standards and practices when conducting a social media review. Social media should be a piece of the evaluation, not a definitive and all-encompassing standard. Be extremely cautious about drawing big conclusions from ambiguous or limited data: Seemingly worrying posts may have relatively innocent explanations, and hacked accounts or cases of mistaken identity, while rare, do happen. When questions arise, do not hesitate to seek clarification or context from the individual in question, and remember that going the extra mile to make sure you perform and document your due diligence will not only avoid unnecessary errors and hasty judgments but will also help protect you from any accusations of bias or impropriety.
With social media continuing to become an increasingly popular and prominent part of the communication, personal and professional distinctions become more intertwined. Social media activity inside and outside the workplace presents growing numbers of opportunities for conflict and misunderstanding, and employers should not only be aware of that fact but should also be taking active steps to become more sophisticated evaluators of social media activity. While the guidance of an experienced attorney is critically important, decision makers and HR professionals should also take the time and initiative to make sure that they have their own basic understanding of the best practices associated with social media reviews. Both the technology and the laws governing the use of social media for professional evaluation are evolving rapidly, and businesses and institutions that want to stay current in this changing environment need to make sure that their policies and practices evolve accordingly in order to keep pace.
Randal Cole is a member of Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC, where he concentrates his legal practice in the area of labor and employment law for automotive, automotive dealership banking and financial services, construction, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. Contact Randal at firstname.lastname@example.org.