How Social Media Affects Hiring Practices: Pros and Cons?

This is a guest post by Blake Pappas. Blake completed his undergraduate degree in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. He has also recently worked in higher education and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Business.
The use of social media has made its impact in many areas of our lives.  It is hard to ignore all the sites that can be thrown at you.  There is no exception when it comes to hiring practices.  In addition to the knowledge gained with a human resources degree, HR departments and future employers now have new strategies at their fingertips, commonly referred to as “social media outlets.”
Whilst social media has brought a swell of new information to the process of hiring a new candidate it has also brought disadvantages.  Weighing the options should depend on each company’s specific employment vacancies and the processes they currently have in place.
Listed are both advantages and disadvantages of using social media sites for employers and job seekers.

  • Employers can gather a lot more information on a candidate then a paper resume has ever been able to provide them.  Web searches using tools such as Google and popular social media sites can give an employer an overview on a candidate.  Information such as interests, social interactions and even work samples can be gathered by an internet search.
  • Thanks to social media the task of finding a job has been made easier for jobseekers.  With the ability to search and sort, job seekers can find jobs across hundreds of sites that meet their specific abilities. No more searching the newspaper every day to find jobs that don’t match specific skills.
  • Employers can target specific job seekers on social networking sites such as linkedin.com.  This saves a company having to advertise and receive hundreds of applications.  Instead employers can find employees that meet the needs of their business.
  • Employers who are looking for niche skills or have jobs in unpopular geographic locations can have more luck using social network sites to find employers than they have had in the past with advertising.
  •  If looking for a certain skill that is more relevant in the international job market an employer has more access to candidates overseas when using social media.

Disadvantages of Social Media in Hiring Practices

  • Employers need to be careful what information they are accessing through a candidate’s social media profile.  Accessing the wrong types of information can lead to discrimination cases.
  • A social media profile does not always give the best overview of a potential employee and employers may miss out on great staff by only  looking at the small picture
  • Streaming through applicants on social media profiles can be time consuming when it comes to comparing new candidates. If a company does not have enough man power it can become a drain on other hiring practices.
  • When it comes to employees, with future employers scanning through social media profiles things such as poor grammar, spelling and behavior can all be noted and have an impact on future job search success.
  • It can be hard for employers to make specific searches and get accurate results back due to all the information available.  Finding the right employees is not always easier using social network sights especially if the job requires specific skill sets.

When it comes to using social media in the hiring process both employees and employers should weigh the advantages and disadvantages.  They should also keep in mind the legal ramifications of information being misused in the hiring process.

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