Entertainment & Intellectual Property Law

Do’s and Don’ts – Use of Social Media in Hiring

Social media burst onto the scene and changed the way we do almost everything.  Facebook now has approximately 845 million monthly users, with 250 million photos uploaded every day and 2.7 billion “likes” per day.  Two new members join the professional networking site LinkedIn every second and is the 36th most visited website in the world.  Last count, there were 4.8 billion mobile users and 4.2 billion people with a toothbrush.  That pretty much says it all.

With the rise of social media, its use in hiring decisions is expanding.  Social media can be a helpful vetting tool, but it is important to know and understand the possible risks involved.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when using social media to make hiring decisions:

  • Do not perform searches on an ad hoc basis.  Apply a consistent approach in your researching by using the same social media sites for reviewing each candidate.
  • Do search only publicly available information.  Do not require applicants to “friend” your organization or provide your organization with their logins and passwords.  Do not attempt to access private information by “shoulder surfing” through “friends.”
  • Do establish a firewall.  Separate the researcher from the hiring decision-maker.  The researcher can filter out information that is irrelevant (such as religious affiliation, sexual orientation) and pass on only relevant information to the hiring decision-maker.  This ensures the decision maker only has job related information.  The decision maker cannot rely on improper information if they do not have access to it.
  • Do keep a record of hiring decisions.  Every organization should document in writing a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for each hiring decision.  This is particularly important if you have viewed an applicant’s Facebook page and, for example, have learned of information that should not be lawfully considered in the decision making process.
  • Do draft (and implement) a social media research policy for your organization.  Ensure that your employees have knowledge of the policy and are trained on its proper implementation.  A policy is only as good as its enforcement.

For more information, contact The Law Firm of Stacey A. Davis at sdavis@staceydavislaw.com or www.staceydavislaw.com.