The rise in social media sites has provided employers with the opportunity to learn more about the candidates that they are considering hiring than every before.

But the problem is that some of the information they may be learning is irrelevant to the job qualifications, or worse, may be improper for the employer to use.

Sharlyn Lauby published an article on the American Express Open Business Form last night that goes into these issues in-depth from a human resources perspective.  While I am quoted in the piece, I highly recommend it for a different reason: It doesn’t try to sugarcoat the issue.

On the one hand, I think we have to recognize that it is unrealistic to expect that employers will simply ignore these social media sites; after all, who hasn’t Googled their name (or their friends) to see what is out there.

But the amount of data now available can also be overwhelming and without filters or controls, it’s tough trying to place such information into a proper perspective. 

I suggest in the article asking yourself a few questions to decide if using social media in the recruiting process makes sense for your organization.

  • Why do you want to use social media?
  • What information are you hoping to find?
  • Is the fact that an employee uses social media a bonus or a demerit?

As I then note in the article, "I think too many employers think that adding social media to the hiring process will make their decision-making easier, but because of the volume and types of information available, it may only make it more complicated."

There’s good input from other human resources professional about how they balance the need to know with other legal and practical concerns.  If you’re considering using social media sites in your hiring process, it’s an article worth reading.