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How Not to Use Social Media

September 29th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

This post is probably going to definitively out me as an HR person (if I haven’t done that already).  I’m already a little bit of a skeptic when it comes to hiring and social media, but the existence of this company frankly just makes me uncomfortable.

Social Intelligence essentially touts itself as a way for HR folks to screen information about candidates available on the public internet, while somehow preventing us from learning protected class information.  The ERE article on Social Intelligence is studiously neutral, but let’s just say I’m less than convinced that “researching a job applicant’s online activity inevitably reveals a great deal of insight about a candidate.”  You know, like the fact that they follow this guy on Twitter…

The Social Intelligence website actually provides little information about how the hiring product actually works.  But looking at ERE’s screencap of the tool highlights the problem I have with using social media this way.  How do you connect information someone posts about violence, drugs, gangs, or poor judgment with actual concerns about these things? Let’s say I post Wu Tang Clan lyrics(very NSFW) on my Facebook page.  It would certainly look like I do lots of drugs, but it turns out I don’t. Where’s the line between what I consume, and what I do?

Social Intelligence’s monitoring tool is maybe even worse.  Do we really want to reinforce an image of HR as a nosy, Big Brother type of function?  And again, there’s no distinction between what people choose to do on their own and behalf of their employer.

Ultimately, this feels like a solution finding a problem to solve by scanning the headlines.

  1. September 29th, 2010 at 18:03 | #1

    I agree 100%. It has come to the point where everyone has to be their own PR manager for their “personal brand.” I’m trying to fight the urge to conform to some imaginary idea of the perfect employee and just be myself. It’s hard knowing there are people out there judging me with every keystroke.

    You will never get a good picture of the things that matter off someone’s Facebook profile.

  2. September 29th, 2010 at 20:05 | #2

    I like that you find the ethical problems not worth the allure of peeking thru candidates windows.

    What do you think of this action ?


  3. Mark
    September 30th, 2010 at 09:10 | #3

    Too true. I find myself nostalgic for a time when work lives and personal lives were easy to keep separate. It’s no coincidence that I don’t really do anything with my Facebook profile. Even though I think I understand the privacy settings I can’t shake the feeling that people I don’t know are checking it out.

  4. Mark
    September 30th, 2010 at 09:17 | #4

    I think that Kathy Parker’s experience at the Philadelphia airport (and the others mentioned in the article) has an interesting connection here. It would be hard to find someone that approves of security screeners rummaging through and commenting on these travelers’ personal items. But there are a surprising number of people that think it’s okay to do the same thing to peoples’ Facebook profiles. Maybe as the use of social media matures, the general sense of what’s right will catch up. I certainly hope so.

  5. October 22nd, 2010 at 09:49 | #5

    I recently wrote a blog post/white paper entitled “Social Screening: Candidates – and Employers – Beware.” After sharing it with Nick Fishman of EmployeeIQScreen, I was directed to the ERE.net post on SocialIntelligence, which then led to this post. I have enjoyed reading the extended digital conversation.

    I added some specific comments about SocialIntelligence on the ERE post that I won’t repeat here. It’s important to remember that recruiters, HR folks, and hiring managers are conducting social searches to source candidates as well, so the risks aren’t just inherent in the background checking process. My expanded thoughts on social screening can be accessed here:

    Blog post – http://www.sminorgs.net/2010/10/social-screening-candidates-and-employers-beware.html

    White paper – http://www.slideshare.net/SMinOrgs/social-screening-candidates-and-employers-beware

    I plan to write a follow-up post and will include a link to this piece in it. It’s a great way to extend my ideas and the discussion.

    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community

  6. October 22nd, 2010 at 13:21 | #6

    As promised in my previous comment, here is a link to my follow-up post entitled “Social Screening: The Expanded Discussion.”


    I look forward to continuing this dialogue.

    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, SMinOrgs Community

  7. Mark
    October 23rd, 2010 at 17:06 | #7

    Thanks Courtney-a lot of helpful information and tips around social media from both jobseeker and employer perspectives.

  1. September 29th, 2010 at 18:32 | #1