CDI Corporation

What Role Should Social Media Play in the Hiring Process?



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Remember when screening a candidate past the interview stage was limited to references and a credit, background or drug test? The growth of social media has introduced another dimension to the hiring process – that while on the surface appears positive, can present challenges in gaining a clear picture of a candidate – both socially and professionally. As social media is increasingly being leveraged to evaluate candidates, employers will need to determine what policies they will put in place to ensure consistency in the hiring process for their permanent and contingency workforce.

According to the 2018 Reputation Management Study conducted by CDI subsidiary
MRINetwork, nearly half (48 percent) of candidates believe their social media presence is important or very important to potential employers. “They know that employers and recruiters are finding everything they can about job applicants before any contact is made and that they may jeopardize their chances if they neglect to monitor the impression they make on social media,” says John Lewis, director of recruiting for CDI Corporation. “This applies to contract employees as well, and consequently, more people are using either separate professional profiles or private settings for their profiles so their information isn’t made public.”

While many employers casually review candidate social media profiles, the survey reveals that 18 percent are formalizing the process, and another 17 percent say they’re considering doing so in the future. But what are they looking for? Although they want to learn something about the candidate’s social life or the choices they make – 39 percent of hiring managers say questionable content or behavior is the No. 1 thing they look for – they are also looking to see if the job resume is consistent with the information posted on social media by the candidate. “Since profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook usually include information such as where you work, where you live and what schools you attended, it’s important that candidates be consistent and truthful,” observes Lewis. “It’s very easy for a potential employer to determine whether what’s on a resume is the same as what’s on the candidate’s social media profile.”

The Pitfalls of Overreliance on Social Media in Hiring Decisions

Not everyone updates their social media to their current situation and there are still some candidates who do not yet have a social media presence. As employers check out candidates, they may inadvertently ignore someone who is a perfect fit for their organization or who could fill a temporary slot on a contract basis, simply due to their lack of a social media presence or inconsistent updating of their information. “If hiring managers rely solely or too heavily on social media, they run the risk of not finding or hiring qualified candidates,” says Lewis. “In today’s candidate-tight market, it’s important to use all available resources to find permanent and contract workers.” Another risk that employers face when using social media information in the hiring process is a legal one. Employers have to be aware of the types of information they are selecting to use in the hiring process; it can be problematic to assess candidates based on their race or gender since this information is protected legally and cannot be taken into account when hiring, according to the Chicago Tribune.

CAUTION – If you learn of a candidate’s protected characteristic(s) (including age, sex, race, color, religion, and national origin) by reviewing the candidate’s social media sites, you may not allow that to influence your willingness to recruit that candidate. Likewise, you should not share that information with your team.

Creating a Consistent Policy on the Use of Social Media in Hiring

If your company reviews social media profiles, it’s best to establish a policy around the use of candidates’ online information in the hiring process that clearly outlines when online searches should and should not be used. “Due to how quickly social media changes, think of this policy as guardrails that provides general guidance on the use of online information about candidates,” says Bill Hyman, chief human resources officer for CDI.

Hyman advises that you consider how to incorporate the following components into your policy:

  • Clarity on the rationale for the use of social media in the recruitment process
  • Transparency for those using the policy and for candidates who are the subject of searches
  • Consistent practice on how the organization will use candidate information collected online
  • Openness about what type of information (i.e. gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) will NOT be used in the selection process.

“Although access to a candidate’s personal profile gives you valuable information during the hiring process, don’t overlook the personal interview, which provides the kind of insight you can’t get online,” concludes Lewis. “Honest, two-way communication can help you understand candidates and assess their fit with your culture better than reading their social media posts, and prevent you from passing up a great new employee to add to your blended workforce.”

Recent CDI Analysis

“More people are using either separate professional profiles or private settings for their profiles so their information isn’t made public.”

John Lewis
Director of Recruiting
CDI Corporation

Employment Situation (U.S.)

Considerable spikes in employment characterized the U.S. economy in May – more than enough to offset an April jobs report viewed as underwhelming in numerous respects. According to the latest Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm payroll employment in America rose by 223,000 through May. This was nearly 100,000 more than the 159,000 positions created during April (according to revised figures) and ahead of numerous economic analysts surveyed by both Bloomberg and Reuters, who predicted median gains of 190,000 and 188,000 jobs, respectively.

Additionally, the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent from the previous month, which, at 3.9 percent in April, was the lowest rate seen in almost 20 years. May’s figure represents an almost half-century low.

Professional and technical services added 23,000 positions for the month. Mining created 6,000 new positions largely in the niche of support services.

Job growth in other industries such as information, financial activities and government was relatively unchanged.

Other indicators within the May BLS report, such as wage growth, provided stronger evidence of sustainable expansion than what were seen in April. Average hourly earnings increased 8 cents to reach $26.92, representing a 0.3 percent uptick that outshone April’s 0.1 percent jump. Additionally, while April’s decline in the labor force participation rate – to 62.7 percent from 62.8 – made it clear that some of 2018’s earlier unemployment decline came from people who stopped actively looking for work, May had no movement in this metric, indicating that the U.S. gained at least enough positions for labor force participation to break even.

Michael Feroli, the chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co., provided a balanced examination of the employment report’s conclusions in an interview with Bloomberg.

"Demand for labor remains pretty vigorous," Feroli told the news provider. "There isn’t a whole lot to dislike in this report." He then admitted that the rate of expansion was likely too strong to continue quite as it had, saying, "Job growth is running in excess of the sustainable pace of the demographically determined supply of labor. This report, in and of itself, definitely strengthens the case for four hikes by the [Federal Reserve] this year. The question is, will policymakers have the confidence that global developments won’t adversely affect U.S. growth?"

In its direct statements, the Fed remains noncommittal thus far regarding the specific schedule of federal benchmark interest rate hikes, but Feroli’s opinion echoes the belief of many on Wall Street and the broader American financial sector who expect three more increases by 2018’s end. Current inflation stands just below 2 percent, the desired level for the national bank, according to Reuters.

The White House’s controversial imposition of metals tariffs on previously exempt trade partners including Canada, Mexico and the European Union, as well as other global socioeconomic unrest, could be problematic in the near future for the U.S. Yet at present, American domestic labor occupies an undeniably strong position based on the latest numbers.

The full Bureau of Labor Statistics report can be downloaded by
clicking here.

Employment Situation (Canada)

The Canadian economy, while stable, has shown some uneven indicators over the last few months. These results have prompted some government and business leaders to make bold moves, such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s broad overtures to Amazon in response to the e-commerce giant’s search for a new headquarters. According to the latest edition of the Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, an uptick in tech jobs during May 2018 is in keeping with the larger trend of IT development in the nation. This outcome could perhaps help Trudeau’s case.

On a general level, the report was more of a mixed bag: Private sector payroll employers in Canada across all industries lost about 8,000 jobs in May, largely due to notable declines in the fields of healthcare and manufacturing. According to Reuters, this change fell far short of economists’ expectations, as experts had predicted an increase of 17,500 positions. However, gains in other industries partially offset the biggest deficiencies so that the total net loss was not, ultimately, of considerable statistical significance. This relative stasis is reflected in the country’s unemployment rate, which stood at 5.8 per cent in May for the fourth month in a row.

Industries which saw large job gains over the month included professional, scientific and technical services which added 17,000 jobs. Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing saw 12,000 positions added to its payrolls. Construction fell for the second month in a row, dropping 13,000 jobs.

Part of the overall decline in jobs stemmed from a 31,000-position drop in full-time work, which may be attributable to a seasonal shift in jobs – a possibility bolstered by the 23,600 jobs gained in the category of part-time labor.

Year-over-year gains painted a more positive picture, with employment having risen 1.3 per cent – 238,000 jobs total – between May 2017 and 2018. Additionally, average hourly earnings rose considerably across the same time span, experiencing a 3.9 per cent uptick. This metric may be the most meaningful economic indicator of all for the average Canadian worker, as Reuters noted it constitutes a level of wages not seen since July 2012.

Business leaders in the nation believe that the time is right for the Bank of Canada to implement another increase for federal interest rates. Andrew Kelvin, a senior rates strategist at TD Securities, said that the uneven nature of the labour report likely wouldn’t interfere with this proposed change but that there wouldn’t be as much pressure on the central bank.

"We don’t think this should put them off from a July hike … but this does reinforce the fact that they don’t need to raise rates incredibly quickly," Kelvin said in an interview with Reuters.

General consensus among market leaders points toward a 74 per cent chance of a Bank of Canada rate hike by July, which, if it occurs, will be the fourth such increase seen in the past year.

Canadian ES Report:
Labour Force Survey, May 2018

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