Hiring Decisions: HR Unlikely to Factor Your Social Media Activity

Aug 25, 2011
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Hiring Decisions: HR Unlikely to Factor Your Social Media Activity

Alexandria, Va. – Human resource professionals rarely factor a job candidate’s social media activity in final hiring decisions, shows a new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

When asked, “Why does your organization not use social networking websites to screen job candidates?” 66 percent of human resource professionals cited legal risks and discovering protected characteristics. The respondents noted protected-class characteristics such as age, race, gender, and religious affiliation.

While nearly seven in 10 cited legal risks, nearly one-half (48 percent) of human resource professionals said they are not able to verify with confidence information from an applicant’s social networking activity.

Nearly one-half (45 percent) of human resource professionals also noted that information about job candidates taken from these sites many not be relevant to their work-relaed potential or performance.

Additionally, the number of human resource professionals citing these top-three concerns increased between 2008 and 2011.

When SHRM first asked the question in 2008 in a related survey, 54 percent of human resource professionals cited a concern about legal risks and discovering protected-class characteristics. Also, 43 percent said they were not able to verify the information found in a job candidate’s social media pages. Regarding the third concern, 36 percent noted the information found in social media may not be relevant to the job or indicative of the job candidate’s performance potential.

The 2011 survey findings, show that only 18 percent of human resource professionals said their organization uses social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook) to screen job candidates during the hiring process. Where online search engines are concerned (e.g., Google, Yahoo), only 26 percent of organizations use the sites to screen job candidates during the hiring process.

Furthermore, 71 percent of human resource professionals surveyed said their organization has never used or has discontinued using social networking websites to screen job candidates.

SHRM polled 541 randomly selected HR professionals from its membership. The survey is the second in a series that examines the use of social media in the workplace. For details, visit the survey section of SHRM Online at http://www.shrm.org/surveys. Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Media: For more information or to schedule an interview with a human resource expert, contact Julie Malveaux of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6273 or Jennifer Hughes at 703-535-6072 and jennifer.hughes@shrm.org.

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About the Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

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