The question of who owns posts on social networks and who can access these posts is unclear. Regardless of whether can LEGALLY ask prospective employees for access to their social networks when screening employees, SHOULD YOU? The answer is NO!
But, that hasn’t stopped the 65% of firms who ask for access to your social networks as routine part of screening employees, according to a researcher at North Carolina State University.
Screening employees using social networks
- Learn about the character of prospective employees
- Determine the underlying values and beliefs of prospective employees
- Uncover potential liabilities reflected by prospective employees
- Screening employees isn’t effective in hiring the “best” employees, according to the same study. Stoughton, lead author of the study said:
By doing this [screening employees] , you assume the applicants that organizations end up choosing are more conscientious, but no studies show that these individuals are any better. They could actually be losing better applicants.
That’s because applicants overwhelming agree there’s something wrong with firms who require access to an applicant’s social network as a routine part of employee screening. Screening applicants through social media shows a lack of trust, showed the unfairness of the prospective employer, and questioned their treatment of employees, making them less likely to accept a job offer after learning of the social network screening.
- Screening employees by scouring their social network for drug and alcohol use or other indiscretions is illegal in a growing number of states.
Maryland joined this list recently and other state representatives are considering such legislation.
- Screening employees has a chilling effect on existing employees that might prompt them to consider alternative employment.
Social Media Policy
That’s why employees, especially in your HR department, need clear guidance in what actions are appropriate and which are not appropriate. A written social media policy can help. By including policies related to employee privacy and access to private social networks of both employees and applicants in the firm’s written social media policy, firms avoid all the negatives associated with screening employees.
Our social media policy includes such instructions. Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about our social media policy.