Meadhbh Teegan Long
Word count: 2048
How Social Networking
is changing HR practices.
It is fairly safe to say that the internet has changed the way we operate our personal and business lives. The more current issue is that social media has changed the way we organise our social and professional calendars and the way in which we correspond with others, both business and non-business. The continuing growth of social networks such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook etc. has significant ramifications for employers. In the ever advancing information age, social networks have become the newest tool of the HR manager. But just how useful can they really be to a HR manager? It is important to note that there are a host of different categories of social networking sites. Some focused at general friendships, others at specific interests and also those which concentrate on the user’s professional persona. As we know, a professional and private persona can be two different things so this choice of networking sites reflects this. Obviously the internet has changed HR techniques drastically in recent years, with the advent of online job posting, online testing and recruitment; HR managers now have more access than ever to candidates. However, the use of social networks for recruiting purposes is relatively new. But this use of social networks as a means of gaining information about a candidate is clearly on the rise. The “profile page” of a user of a social networking site may be accessed by anyone who is a member of the same networking site, subject to the privacy and security settings applied by the user themselves. The use of social networks for recruitment purposes is now a widely common practice due to its close relation to the act of posting an advertisement for a position on the internet. Social networks are even beginning to develop classified sections for job seekers and job posters. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn are becoming an increasingly valuable tool for employers in locating qualified candidates, and for candidates to display their credentials to potential employers. In theory the concept is ideal and it seems to work extremely well. As with everything, there are issues with legitimacy of information provided. How reliable and job-relevant the information provided is a big challenge which these professional social networks present. The use of social networking site presents a particular problem with regard to screening and selection. Unfortunately, while sites like LinkedIn can give a candidate an opportunity to sell themselves as professionals, networking sites which focus more on the social aspect can paint a completely different picture to employers. The practice of an employer accessing information about an employee or potential candidate via Facebook, MySpace etc. is still a relatively new behaviour. The difference is that while a candidate may build their LinkedIn profile to aim at employers, they build their Facebook profile to aim at friends and it’s this lax attitude which can be detrimental to their opportunities. With more than 400 million active users on Facebook alone, employers can now find almost all young job candidates on Facebook, MySpace, Google Plus or LinkedIn and take an unfiltered look at the real person behind the resume. Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of employers who research job candidates using social networking sites rose from 22% to 45% (careerbuilder.com). There are potential pitfalls for employers using social networking sites to screen candidates. It is widely known to HR managers that you cannot, during the interview process, legally ask a candidate about their age, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, health etc. As you cannot ask these questions and make hiring decisions based on those protected classes, you cannot then bypass the law by finding out that information by visiting the candidates profile on various social networking...
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