SOURCE PI Profits
AURORA, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Criminal background checks and, in some cases, credit checks have long been among the standard practices of human resources departments. Now, hiring managers have a new tool in their arsenal, but one that must be applied with care. Social media and the web have allowed people to extend their identities into a virtual space, and hiring managers have begun to see these avenues as new screening modalities. However, due diligence is necessary on the digital frontier; PI Profits Agency (http://piprofitsagency.com/), a niche marketing agency for private investigation firms, warns that while these technologies are powerful, they are not without risk.
"Online search engines and social networks are amazing tools that have literally changed the world, but the laws regulating fairness in hiring practices have remained the same," explained Paul Beauchemin, founder of PI Profits Agency. "Hiring managers must therefore tread lightly when using social media and search engines as portals to information on candidates, applicants and current employees. On the other hand, offline criminal background checks have a long history, and best practices surrounding them have undergone decades of refinement."
Research from the Society for Human Resource Management provides data on the how and why of background checks in the hiring process, particularly criminal background checks. More than two-thirds of organizations surveyed responded that criminal background checks are standard for all job candidates. The 2012 survey pooled responses from 406 organizations of all sizes, representing a cross-section of industries.
The rationale for criminal background checks is easy to understand. Organizations need to protect themselves from liability while also providing a safe work environment. The investigation into social media activity, though, opens up a troubling grey area. The most obvious conundrum facing hiring managers and screeners is that information culled from online social networks may only have a marginal relationship, if any, to a position's actual duties.
CareerBuilder's 2012 survey of 2,303 hiring managers indicated that 37% of companies turn to social media as a screening tool for potential job candidates. That number is actually down from the 2009 result of 45%, perhaps demonstrating that companies have become more cautious about using social media as part of the candidate search or selection process.
Not surprisingly, LinkedIn is far and away the most commonly referenced social networking site in both the recruitment and screening. The site's focus on professional accomplishments and skills makes it attractive to hiring managers, but even here there are pitfalls to avoid. The basic tenets of fairness in hiring are the same regardless of technology: race, religion, marital status and political orientation, among many other factors, cannot be considered in the employment decision.
Another problem with the major social media networks is that they're not representative of the diversity in America. Latinos, African-Americans and the economically disadvantaged are underrepresented on these networks, which could unfairly skew a candidate search. Therefore, hiring managers should still cast a wide net by broadcasting open positions on job boards, in magazines and newspapers, and at job fairs.
Beauchemin concluded: "My advice is not to be too dazzled with the pipeline of information served up by search engines and social media. Much of it is noise, i.e. irrelevant to the task of hiring a qualified candidate. More importantly, using privileged information to make a decision raises the specter of legal issues. The solution is clear: develop a robust best practices guide for social media and search engine screening and stick by it."
About PI Profits
PI Profits is a results-oriented marketing, sales and customer service agency dedicated exclusively to the private investigation niche. PI Profits has proven online and offline marketing strategies that are focused on increasing net, bottom line profits.
Paul Beauchemin has over 30 years' experience as a Principal Investigator for a Fortune 100 company, during which he has patented numerous technologies. He also has 20 years' experience as an entrepreneur, working directly with hundreds of millionaire business creators.
Read more news from PI Profits.
©2012 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.