May 23, 2016

Friending Potential Hires: Stuck in the Friend Zone

This month CareerBuilder released its annual social media recruitment survey and its findings were of particular importance to us. For one, the survey found that 60 percent of employers are using social media to screen candidates. But most saliently, “36 percent of hiring managers say they’ve requested “to be a friend” or follow candidates who have private accounts.”

Sound suspicious to you? It should. Snooping into individual private accounts and “friending” for the purposes of investigation is unethical, and in some cases, illegal. If someone has made their content private, companies need to respect that.

Friending for the purposes of investigation is unethical, and in some cases, illegal.

The legal implications of snooping into private areas of a candidate’s social media are quite clear. If a hiring manager friends a candidate and then sees something that falls under a protected class, under the EEOC they are breaking employment law. Moreover, such practices leave companies extremely vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits.

This breach of privacy also puts candidates in a precarious position: according to CareerBuilder, 32 percent of candidates have refused to accept friend requests or grant following permissions from hiring managers. We believe remaining private is their right, but it seems many companies may disagree. The survey also found that 41 percent of employers say they are less likely to interview people if they can’t find information of them online. A candidate should not have to have their privacy breached for the sake of a landing a job.

Friending candidates and following private accounts is ethically dubious and create a bad experience for job candidates. If these are folks that will eventually become your most prized asset – your team – don’t you want to get started on the right foot?

We place a premium on legal compliance, but also creating an awesome candidate experience from first contact. When we see surveys like this, it highlights the need for a standardized and user-friendly approach to candidate screening – something we are working on creating every day.

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