Hiring Process – Social Media Risks & Rewards

By: Brittany Boykin

“The power of social media is it forces necessary change.” – Erik Qualman. From cutting-edge to mainstream, social media is the new black, and cannot be ignored.¬† In today’s era, social media intersects with the HR world via the hiring process, bringing both great risk and reward. Organizations can choose to use social media in two ways: 1) recruiting candidates by posting job openings and 2) conducting background checks to confirm a candidates qualifications for an open position. In recent years employers have decreased in using social media (i.e. Facebook, Instagram) as the platform to conduct background checks and more so towards social media outlets such as LinkedIn for posting job openings. The saying “high risk, high reward,” does not neccessailry apply here, but with any change being implemented thoughout the organization will come with potential risk and reward. In an article written three years ago in Society for Human Resource Management, Top Seven Ways to Maximize Benefits and Minimize Risk were stated:

  1. Never ask for Password: in 50 states this creates risk of violating the Federal Stored Communications Act and potentialing setting your company at high risk, instead view the information posted on their account that is for public view only.
  2. Have HR do it: Allow the HR team to view social media profiles, as they would know what to look for versus upline management.
  3. Look later in the process: Wait until the potential new hire has at least been interviewed to view the social media profile, this way if apart of any organizations, the HR team is already familiarized prior to.
  4. Be consistent: If you choose to look at social media profiles, look at all profiles. Do not pick and choose profiles depending on candiate.
  5. Docuement Decisions: If choose to make a decsion based off social media content, HR should document and record any reason of rejection. This protects the employer in the long run, just in case the potential candidate would like to challenge the decision.
  6. Conside the source: View and focus on candidates personal profiles, as their are various imposter accounts being generated daily.
  7. Be aware that other laws may apply: Familiarize yourself with all laws pertaining to state and federal as it relates to social media; some state laws prohibit adverse action based on off-duty conduct. except under certain circumstances.



  1. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/0914-social-media-hiring.aspx