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Hiring and Social Media

August 30th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last week German legislators introduced a bill to limit how employers could use publicly available information about candidates in their hiring decisions.  Although I have personal sympathies with the intent of the bill (more below), it’s ultimately a futile exercies.

Beyond the philosophical argument against this bill, there are the practical difficulties:

  • How will the German government differentiate between private social networking and job social networking? You can link your personal Twitter account to your LinkedIn account-does that put your whole LinkedIn profile out of bounds?  Lines will only become more blurry.
  • Candidates will have virtually no way to know if social media was consulted in their hiring decision.
  • How much enforcement resources will actually be devoted to this? If I were a German voter, I’d be disappointed if it were a lot-the government should have better things to do with its money.

From my perspective as an American this is all fairly moot, as I think our job market is far too neoliberal for something like this to ever pass.

One other point. As a I said above, I actually agree on some level with the intent behind this bill.  Social media is a poor evaluative tool in the hiring process. Lurking on someone’s Facebook page is akin to eavesdropping on conversations in a restaurant: at best you get a snapshot of someone’s life.  You simply don’t get enough information to draw strong conclusions about people.

So to recruiters and HR people that use social media as an informal reference check: please stop, you’re making us look like nosy fools.

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