Have you Googled or searched social media such as Facebook to recruit or screen potential employees? 

 What are the risks employers face, by using social media for employment purposes?

Social media is changing the way companies across the globe do business.  From helping your company connect with its customers to recruiting potential employee’s, social media can be a valuable resource. The type of media you use whether personal (Facebook) or professional (LinkedIn) or in combination can be valuable tools for employers. But beware there is a dark side to social media, and it could be hazardous to your company.

   What is the dark side of social media?\"\"

By using social networking sites to filter or screen candidates you are entering the dark side, and it is risky.  Not only are there legal issues, but what most don’t think of is personal differences you become aware of that might cloud your judgment. Personal differences can take many forms, from physical to ideals to attitudes and affiliations that are different from our own – sometimes radically different.

 According to a 2013 study conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilders, 39 percent of employers are already using social networking sites to screen candidates.

 The number one reason for taking a candidate out of the running for a position was provocative or inappropriate posts.

 The main problem with this practice is: who decides what is appropriate or inappropriate?  How do you define what is an acceptable or unacceptable?

 Provocative or inappropriate photos or information, such as drinking or using illegal drugs, or posts were they bad mouth past or current employers could be considered inappropriate.  What about comments that are related to race, gender or religion?  These can all be contributing factors as to why a potential employee was not interviewed or hired.

Your exposure to potential lawsuits can increase when potential candidates post protected information such as age or religion.  You might be defending a discrimination charge even if your decision not to hire was for legitimate reasons.

At least six states, including Illinois,have enacted laws that prohibit employers from demanding user names and passwords of job candidates and/or employee’s in order to view their personal social media posts, posts not intended for public viewing.

As with any issue there are pros and cons. One of the pros is the information you uncover could make a candidate more attractive and lead to a job offer.

Does the risk outweigh the potential reward?  For me, yes.  I think it would be advisable for every employer to develop a lawful and responsible social media strategy that focuses on relevant job related qualifications.