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Mistakes people make recruiting with social media

More than nine out of ten recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment processes, and more than half are doing the same with mobile career sites, according to research from Jobvite.

LinkedIn is dominant among the social networking sites for recruitment, used by 95 per cent of recruiters for searching and contacting candidates, and 93 per cent for vetting pre-interview. It's a source of hires for 79 per cent of recruiters, distantly followed by Facebook at 26 per cent.

The figures demonstrate that social media has become a central plank of recruitment strategy, allowing employers a sneak preview of their candidates.

Some 55 per cent of respondents said they had reconsidered a candidate based on their social profile, usually negatively (61 per cent). Illegal drug references (83 per cent) were most likely to put them off, followed by sexual posts (70 per cent), spelling or grammar mistakes (66 per cent) and profanity (63 per cent). References to volunteering or charity work had a positive impression on 65 per cent of respondents.

Tips for recruiting with social media

Although social media is clearly a useful tool, lots of mistakes are still being made with it, according to Scott Beagrie, writing in HRMagazine.

Small businesses might turn to social media as a shortcut through the recruitment process. But that would underestimate the time costs involved; responses to social media are needed far more quickly than other channels, with near-constant coverage.

It's no good jumping on the bandwagon for the sake of it. The target audience needs to be on social media in the first place too - or on the right network. Low-skilled workers are generally less likely to use it in their roles and so may be harder to reach through it.

On the other hand, IT specialists may be more likely to use niche social networks, rather than 'vanilla' ones such as LinkedIn.

In any case, an organisation's social media presence should reflect what it's like to work there, rather than just being a recruitment tool. That helps to create a two-way process enabling candidates to get the measure of the business too.

The risks

Employers - particularly those without dedicated HR departments - need to know the dangers too. If using social media to vet candidates, they must be careful that they are not discriminating against protected characteristics, namely age, sex, disability, race, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and pregnancy and maternity.

It's also important to remember that a large number of potential applicants do not use social media at all. How can recruiters reach out to these people? Can they assess candidates fairly when they use different processes depending on whether or not they have a social profile?

Acas guidance on social media says using at least two channels can help ensure that you attract candidates from a range of backgrounds, and reduces the risk of being discriminatory by excluding certain groups.

After all, recruiters in the Jobvite survey said that they'd found their best candidates through referrals, internal transfers and direct sources, rather than social media - showing the importance of casting the net beyond social networks.

Acas publications and services

Acas can help you manage Social media in the workplace in the workplace, including how best to approach Social media - recruitment and performance management, and Recruitment.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and develop safe and effective procedures and policies for using social media in your recruitment process. See Recruitment and Retention: how Acas can help for more information.

Practical training is also available on Recruitment and induction, Skills for supervisors, and Employing People - A Practical Introduction.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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