My course at Manhattan College is proving to be a wonderful source of opinions, discussion and new ideas related to current topics in the HR field. During our most passionate debates, I find that I learn as much from my students as I hope they’re learning from me. Our most recent class session focused on social media and its potential value as a recruitment source. Since at this point, there aren’t many existing legal statutes controlling the use of Facebook and Twitter in the search for talent, the possibilities are wide open and the subject is the source of some controversy.
Can Facebook help employers find exceptional recruits? Or will social media prove to be a false lead? Is it wise, profitable, and ethical for recruiters to move in this direction, or do the drawbacks outweigh the benefits? Here’s what different sides have to contribute to the debate.
Online Social Networking: a Recruiter’s Dream Come True
The benefits of the online social network lie in its vast width. For recruiters, there’s nothing more valuable than a wide net, especially if the net is controllable and offers useful filters. If your company has a business profile page and an open position, and you aren’t using one to staff the other, you’re missing a golden opportunity.
Recruiters can also investigate the profile pages of potential applicants to find obvious red flags. This can be a quick and inexpensive way to narrow the candidate pool. And accusations of privacy violation are somewhat moot, since candidates are always free to control their own privacy settings and limit who sees what.
Social Media: Recruiters Beware
Wide-eyed recruiters who are enchanted by the magic of “technology” would be wise to slow down and take a breath. It’s true, we live in a miraculous age of unprecedented connection, but core HR tasks are still best approached with measured attention to the needs of the company, the requirements of a position, and the quirks of human nature. It’s unwise to abandon “old-fashioned” applications and interviews in exchange for a quick series of Facebook page scans, or to assume that social media can reveal information about an applicant that would otherwise remain hidden. At the same time, rejecting candidates on the basis of social media alone can allow valuable talent to slip away.