Written by Chris Russell
5th October, 2021
Employers Using Social Media for Hiring
Social media is so pervasive today that it is seeping into many aspects of the hiring process. While at the HR technology conference last week I even discovered a new social media background check company called LifeBrand that wants to help your employees clean up their social media posts. They offer a service as benefit to help your employees remove cringeworthy content from their social media pages easy and safe.
But we know social media and hiring goes deeper than that. Many employers use it to screen and vet candidates.
ModernHire an enterprise hiring platform recently released new research revealing that social media is not a valid or predictive hiring tool, cautioning recruiters on the risks of incorporating it into their hiring practices and platforms.
Risks of Hiring with Social Media
A recent whitepaper, What Does the Science Say: Social Media in Hiring, features a study conducted by Modern Hire’s team of advanced-degree industrial-organizational psychologists and data scientists, who set out to understand the validity of social media as a hiring tool by investigating whether any relevant information from a candidate’s LinkedIn profile is related to on-the-job performance.
Specifically, Modern Hire’s study focused on job candidates in sales positions, measuring success on the job with employees’ sales performance metrics. With few exceptions, Modern Hire’s research results suggest that an employee’s LinkedIn profile elements are not strongly correlated with their sales performance metrics, meaning using LinkedIn profiles for candidate selection and vetting is not shown to be predictive of candidates’ on-the-job performance.
“Social media is increasingly being leveraged in the hiring process without much policy or guidance around it,” said Eric Sydell, Ph.D. and EVP of Innovation at Modern Hire. “Our latest research demonstrates that, at least at this time, using social media in the hiring process offers little to no scientific value, and can even have an adverse impact on candidates during the recruiting and hiring process.”
Social Media Hiring Bias
While using social media as a hiring tool can be an innovative way to engage with candidates, it can also introduce bias into the hiring process. Many social media platforms contain protected class information, and as a result, using social media for anything beyond identifying prospective candidates –– especially when it comes to the evaluation and selection stages –– increases the risk of unconscious bias and adverse impact in the hiring process.
Additionally, many candidates are not aware that their social media posts will be used by recruiters and hiring managers as part of the hiring evaluation process. With the exception of LinkedIn, prominent social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were built for personal –– not professional –– use, and it is not clear whether candidates intend for potential employers to use this information in hiring situations. As an alternative to leveraging social media in the hiring process, Modern Hire’s research suggests that recruiters should focus on using unbiased hiring practices that start with quality data, as well as predictive hiring tools that are validated and fair.
“It’s difficult to predict what the future may hold for the use of social media in hiring,” said Mike Hudy, Ph.D. and Chief Science Officer at Modern Hire. “With the rapid, constant evolution in social media functionality and user preferences, practices that may be fair and legally defensible today could become outdated virtually overnight. It’s important to choose hiring strategies and technologies that are scientifically proven to improve hiring experiences for candidates and results for companies.”
From Tik-tok to Twitter, employers need to proceed with caution using these tools to evaluate candidates. Similarly employees need to be aware of what they post on these channels so a tool like what LifeBrand is offering employers might be an interesting benefit to give your employees to help them avoid a bad social media reputation.