Potential legal repercussions face recruiters using social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook as talent sourcing tools, according to one industry expert.
The rules of the social network are markedly different from those of the professional sphere, and recruiters viewing content that a candidate has posted on such sites may not be considering the context of private and social norms, said Shafiq Lokhandwala, CEO of Wilmington, Mass.-based human resources technology vendor NuView Systems Inc. “It’s an informal group and for an informal audience,” said Lokhandwala, referring to social networking platforms.
“What social networking does,” he said, “is it blends that difference.”
Lokhandwala recounts an incident where a candidate’s offer of employment was rescinded when the would-be employer found comments written on a social networking site by the candidate that the job was merely a stepping stone and that he wasn’t really that interested. That scenario presents no particular problems for the organization, but where legal repercussions come into play, said Lokhandwala, is if the organization rescinded the offer based on a comment made on a social networking site by the candidate’s friend, and not the candidate itself.
“But why can’t someone be allowed to say something like that?” asked Lokhandwala, adding that if social networking platforms are to remain social, then they can’t be used as a business tool. Or, conversely, if they are to become a business tool, then they can no longer reflect private and social norms.
But potential legal repercussions aside, Lokhandwala said there is just too much information on social networks, very little of which is relevant to a candidate’s professional life, to make the recruitment process efficient. And, the authenticity of the person posting the content may be in question, as might be the length of time since the content was posted.
What also might contribute to inefficiency is the fact that recruiters will be swamped with applications flooding in from social networking sites, as with Twitter, for instance, which alerts members to job openings. “Everyone wants to be the next rocket scientist for IBM to take the next spaceship to wherever, but now you’ve got inundated with resumes, which will then create very little value if there is too much volume,” said Lokhandwala.
The quality of content posted on social networking sites is definitely a factor for recruiters, but the process is really no different were it another platform, said Kevin Grossman, president of HRmarketer.com and principal with Capitola, Calif.-based marketing and PR software and services firm Fisher Vista LLC. “No matter what, it does come down to how you are getting to your short list of qualified applicants,” said Grossman.