Staff Management, Hiring Procedures and Legal Terms in Times of Social Media

Hiring procedures have dramatically changed over the past couple of years. With the emergence of social media new tools for “employee screening” became available and are in heavy use by corporations all over the country. All known job posting boards on the Internet are recommending to “watch your online presence”. Don’t post anything that might tick anyone off, is the common advice.

While it was, and still is, good advice to think before speaking, what exactly can anyone post in social media these days? Is leaving a comment about the President’s latest budget cutting ideas already a problem? The HR guy or the hiring manager might not share the opinion and might lean to the other extreme of the topic. Is publishing that someone had 10 beers during the last birthday party already minimizing chances for a job? Reading the advice and articles regarding the topic, a lot can cut your chances short, if you are in a job search, or you are even employed and look for promotion.

It is very interesting to note that all the job boards also recommend not to put personal information on a resume. What? If personal information is not important and irrelevant, why would anyone sniff around in social media accounts? It seems a little bid that laws and policies haven’t caught up with the procedures at this point. Another question that is rising out of all this is, what is corporate America exactly looking for in employees? Always politically correct, never any confrontations, no own opinion, just yes and going with the stream?

In the past the advice was, get your resume together. Do this, do that. Basically make sure only the best is on there. Make sure your references are all informed and tell a good story. So, after everything was all set, the perfect candidate was created. Whether that really represented the facts, well, …. Today, everyone in a job search has to make sure LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and all other social media accounts are in great shape and display, well, what exactly? If it is true that now even the currently employed are screened for their social media activities, social media is going down the hill, fast. It could mean sooner or later only cat and dog pictures are posted (nothing against them, I love animals).

Where does all that lead to? For a job searcher? For companies? Job searchers will follow the advice and clean out their social media accounts, just as they did with the resume and the references. Nothing on the accounts will give any hints about personality and other info one would like to present to friends and the world around them. Companies will find meaningless postings on peoples accounts, or posts catered to the job they have applied for. Whether the poster has a serious interest in it or not, cannot be determined anymore. It might also lead to a sizeable decrease in quality of new employees. Leaders usually don’t hesitate to step up and make an appearance. They are usually not very difficult to find. If they change their habits, it might get a little more difficult. Last but not least, the message to employees “we are watching you”, might not be the right message for a progressive company to send out.

What to do? It seems to be clear that in times of social media, the classic resume doesn’t reflect a lot anymore. Yes, job history and related is good info, but in order to pay tribute to everything that is out there, the information part of a resume should be extended. Personal information and activities should be listed and counted as relevant. That means certain laws and policies need to be adjusted. Those that maintain those laws and policies need to wake up and go with the time. Age, gender, race and other personal information are not a secret anymore. Allow and encourage people to make a statement about their life and things that are really relevant to work performance. If I would be a hiring manager, I would love to know what people do for fun and what keeps them going. There are a lot of assets to discover, for everyone involved. As a hiring company, if you indicate that you are only looking for someone that is sitting in a cubicle and does not much else, that is what you get, in a perfect version.

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