Few Employers Use Social Networks to Screen Candidates

August 26 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Although recent survey findings by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) indicated that a majority (56%) of employers are tapping Internet social networking sites to search for potential job candidates, results released by SHRM from the second phase of the survey show a much smaller number of businesses are using Web-based resources, such as online search engines and social networking Web sites, to screen applicants.

A news report from SHRM states that the new results revealed slightly more than one-quarter (26%) of respondents said their organizations use search engines to screen job applicants, while only 18% of the poll participants said their companies use social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) for the same purpose. In addition, the survey revealed approximately two-thirds of respondents have never used or no longer use search engines (64%) or social networking sites (71%) to screen candidates.

According to the respondents, legal risks and ramifications ranked as the top reason why they do not use the two Internet-based resources to screen applicants. Other top reasons included a lack of verifiable data and a lack of job-related information found through these methods. 

The survey did find a growing number of employers have developed or are in the process of developing policies for using online resources for screening applicants. The report states that according to data collected by SHRM in 2008, nearly three-quarters (72%) of responding organizations had no formal or informal policy. The most recent poll results found respondents reporting their companies have no formal or informal policy had dropped to 56%. In the new survey, 29% of the respondents reported their organizations plan to implement a policy in the next 12 months, compared to 11% in 2008. 

Among the organizations using search engines and social networking Web site information, only 15% reported their organizations had used information gathered by a search engine to disqualify job candidates; 30% reported they had used social networking information to eliminate applicants from consideration. Nearly a quarter of the survey participants (23%) indicated job applicants included information about their social networking activities on their resumes frequently or occasionally, while 77% reported applicants seldom or never included social networking information. 

The SHRM survey report is titled The Use of Social Networking Websites and Online Search Engines in Screening Job Candidates.