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While job candidates might be concerned how recruiters view them after checking out their Facebook page, new research shows employers that use social media recruiting should have the same worry.
A North Carolina State University (NCSU) study has found that organizations that implement online screening practices through sites like Facebook and Twitter may reduce their attractiveness to both applicants and current employees.
As part of the study, 175 students applied for a fictitious temporary job they believed to be real and were later informed they were screened via their social networks. The results showed that the student applicants were less likely to take a job offer after learning their Facebook page and other social networking accounts were reviewed by the potential employer.
One of the study's authors, Will Stoughton, said the students in the experiment not only felt their privacy had been invaded, but that the action also reflected poorly on the organization's fairness, trust and treatment of employees.
"By doing this, you assume the applicants that organizations end up choosing are more conscientious, but no studies show that these individuals are any better," Stoughton said. "They could actually be losing better applicants."
Screening applicants' social media presence as part of the recruiting process can also impact the view current employees have on their employer. Stoughton said employees that see the organization looking at their social networking site might be likely to leave because their perception of the companies' fairness and trust has changed.
A recent survey by Jobvite revealed 92 percent of U.S. companies this year are using social media to find new talent. Among the benefits recruiters point to are an increase in the amount of qualified candidates to choose from, as well as an upgraded candidate pool.
Stoughton advises businesses that are using social media recruiting to not get too attached to the tactic. As social networking becomes more integrated into society, legal issues could develop and organizations could face invasion of privacy claims, he said.
"If organizations are going to screen social networking websites, they should weigh the possible benefits with its costs," Stoughton said.
Stoughton, along with NCSU co-authors Lori Foster Thompson and Adam Meade, presented their research at the recent 27th Annual Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Conference in San Diego.