Social Media- The New HR Resource

Katherine Bennett - September 16, 2009

No one thought the book 1984 would become a reality when George Orwell wrote it back in 1949. However, it seems that with the increase of technology, 2009 is becoming 1984, especially in the arena of social media. Social media is no longer just a way to socialize with friends or reach loyal and potential customers; it has evolved into a research tool and a tracking device for businesses to watch current or potential employees.

It may seem unconventional, but human resource departments are starting to use social media to do background checks on potential employees. In fact, a recent article by eMarketer Daily shows that job candidates have been helped and hurt based on what they posted on social media sites. Based on stats from the article, HR departments are looking for inappropriate pictures, drug habits, and other things that might deter them from hiring a candidate. However, they’re also looking at communications skills, as well as what a potential job candidate has posted about a previous employer or boss. What a person writes and the pictures they post are fair game for critiquing a potential hire. In fact, a recent article in Computer World said that President Obama warned school children about posting inappropriate material on social media sites because it could come back to haunt them in the future.

Speaking of the future, more and more companies are implementing
corporate social media policies that they ask employees to sign. It’s not about invading privacy, but it’s about protecting the company image and name. Remember what happened to Domino’s. Some companies are encouraging employees to set up two separate profiles. One would be a professional profile and the other would be a personal profile. It could seem over the top to some, but really it’s a safe move. Think about it, what if your employee fans a client site, but has a difference of opinion with the client and vents their frustration to their friends through their social media sites. Oops, that won’t make for good business, especially, if the client catches it before your business does. A corporate social media policy doesn’t sound like a bad idea does it?

Given that social media is being used for researching and tracking by companies; it’s best not to post anything that may seem questionable whether it’s on your professional profile or your personal profile. People may forget what you say, but what you write and post is a different story, and don’t think you’ll just erase it. There are tools out there that can pull deleted posts from websites, but we’ll save that for another blog.

The internet isn’t private; anything you post or write can possibly be used for or against you.

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