The hiring process is one of the most important tasks for the organization since workers are a crucial part of the business. The Human Resource department of the company is therefore charged with hiring new employees from the labor market. A major goal of HR personnel is to employ the most appropriate person for the job on offer.
In the past, the primary recruitment sources were through advertisements placed on the mass media and use of professional circles. The potential candidates were required to send his curriculum vitae and then attend interviews where he was asked some job specific questions. However, technological advances have led to the emergence of new recruitment sources. One of these sources has been Social Networking Sites (SNSs).
SNSs have emerged as novel applications that have attracted millions of users all over the world over the past decade. The increased use of social media has led to the rapid growth of this sector over the past decade and it is now a multibillion-dollar industry.
Individuals have exploited SNSs for a wide range of purposes including keeping in touch with friends, obtaining news from media houses, and keeping up to date with reports on their favorite celebrities to name but a few. This widespread use of SNSs by many individuals provides a unique opportunity for employers to use this media to communicate with potential hires through electronic recruitment.
There has therefore developed a trend of using SNSs for recruitment purposes by some companies in recent years. While some see this method as advantageous, there are those who argue that SNSs are not an effective or credible source of recruits.
The paper will argue that SNSs are good and effective recruitment source and should therefore be used more extensively by employers who are seeking to attract a wide pool of qualified applicants.
Debating the Issue
SNSs give the company the means by which to reach thousands of prospective employees. Companies are in constant competition with each other to attract and employ the most competent staff. The probability of employing the best staff is increased if there is a large candidate base from which to choose.
SNSs have experienced significant growth over the last decade with millions of users becoming active on SNSs. Sorensen (2009) confirms that millions of individuals all over the world have made SNSs use a part of their daily life. Due to this increase in user base, a recruitment message placed on SNSs has the potential to reach many eligible applicants.
Using SNSs for recruitment significantly reduces the cost associated with the hiring process. Without the use of SNSs, companies are likely to rely on traditional methods of recruitment such as advertisements through newspapers or magazines. These methods are expensive, as the company might have to post the same advertisement for a number of times in order to reach the maximum number of people.
Using SNSs, the company only has to post a message on their page or have their employees post the message on their profiles. This information is disseminated rapidly and at a low cost. Pollitt (2005) reveals that by using e-recruitment strategies, the multinational corporation Nike was able to reduce its recruitment costs by up to 54%.
Use of SNSs increases the speed of the recruitment process ensuring that the organization is able to hire new employees in a timely manner. Since SNSs are a part of e-recruitment, the candidates are often required to submit their resumes and testimonials online.
The HR department is not required to deal with many paper applications, as would be the case with traditional methods where candidates had to submit their CVs in hard copy. HR productivity is therefore increased because of using SNSs.
Opponents of using SNSs for recruitment argue that these sources are not credible. The two most popular SNSs, Facebook and Twitter are designed to promote informal relationships among individuals. People use these sites to network with their friends and obtain information about their interests.
This argument is corroborated by Brandenburg (2007) who reveals that sites such as Facebook are primarily used for social interactions with users engaging in casual rapport on the platform. By using SNSs, the employer might appear to have low credibility and this will negatively affect the ability to persuade potential applicants to submit their applications for the job on offer.
However, advocates of SNSs have argued that the informal nature of these sites might actually benefit the recruitment efforts. When friends post a job offer on their profile, they are regarded as highly credible by their friends due to the social relationship that exists among them.
A significant demerit of using SNSs for recruitment purposes is that it might lock our candidates who do not make use of this tool in their everyday life. While it is true that SNSs have gained increased popularity over the past decade, there are still people who prefer not to use these sites. Lievens and Harris (2003) illustrate that there are individuals who regard SNSs as time wasting applications and therefore avoid them.
Others lack competence in computer use or access to computers and/or the internet. An employee who relies exclusively on SNSs for the recruitment process will lock out many qualified candidates therefore reducing the number of candidates for the vacancy.
Important Court Cases/Events
When Social Networking Sites are used for recruitment, the employer is likely to use the information freely provided by the prospective candidate on their profile for screening purposes. This raises a number of legal issues. Morgan and Davis (2013) explain that even though this information is provided freely, there are laws that prohibit employers from using some of the information to make employment decisions.
For example, if the employer uses information about the candidate’s sex, sexual orientation, or religion to make the employment decision, this might be considered as discrimination. The case of Gaskell v. University of Kentucky in 2010 illustrated that an individual can sue a potential employer for discrimination if the employer uses information from the individual’s profile in an SNS for screening purposes (Morgan & Davis, 2013).
There have been laws passed in some states that reduce the access that employers have to the social media accounts of employees and potential employees.
In Michigan, the Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation in 2012 limiting the access that employers have to the online SNS profiles of potential hires (Morgan & Davis, 2013). Such legislation ensures makes it unlawful for employers to screen candidates and in case of a violation, the employer can be taken to court and made to pay damages to the job applicant.
Employers should be careful when dealing with the personal information they collect about the candidates during SNSs recruitment. The private information of the candidate is protected under the “Data Protection Act 1998”.
Utilizing the personal data in a way that violates this law is an offence. Morgan and Davis (2013) assert that the employer must reveal to the candidate how the information collected will be used and respect the DPA at all times.
What measures can the recruiter take to ensure that the employment opportunity message is received by the desirable segment of SNSs users? While posting the message haphazardly will still result in the message being disseminated to a large number of people, this is not an efficient approach. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the message will reach the qualified candidates that the organization is seeking to attract.
Does the particular social networking site (for example either Facebook, Twitter, or linked) you choose to recruit from say something about your organization? There have been suggestions that the medium you use as a recruitment source might affect the public perception of the employer. Is there any truth to this statement?
What steps can be taken to ensure that recruitment using SNSs does not discriminate against individuals who do not have access to computers or those who lack computer competence?
In what ways can the profile of Social Networking Sites as credible and dependable recruitment sources by increased. At the present, there is a general perception that SNSs cannot be used to recruit for high paying and highly specialized jobs.
Some researchers contend that the recruitment source for jobs that require highly specialized and experienced personnel is through references from experts and advertisement through professional circles. On the other hand, social networking is mostly used for generic jobs.
Brandenburg, C. (2007). The Newest Way to Screen Job Applicants: A Social Networker’s Nightmare. Federal Communications Law Journal, 60 (2), 12-18.
Lievens, F., & Harris, M.M. (2003). Research on Internet Recruiting and Testing: Current Status and Future Directions. International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 16 (1): 131-165.
Morgan, H.A., & Davis, F.A. (2013). Social media and employment law: Summary of key cases and legal issues. Los Angeles: Paul Hastings LLP.
Pollitt, D. (2005). E-recruitment gets the Nike tick of approval. Human Resource Management International Digest, 13(2): 33–35.
Sorensen, L. (2009). User Managed Trust in Social Networking – Comparing Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Proceedings of Wireless Vitae, 51(4), 427-431.