Why Social Media Gets in the Way for Hiring

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Social media has been a part of our lives for long enough that certain rules around it just seem like a given. Even when you're having a great time, make sure only to share things that wouldn't endanger your job, prospective or otherwise. That conversation is lopsided, though, and it's time to talk about how it trips up employers.


Sociologists at North Carolina State University have just released a study on a hiring phenomenon called cybervetting. This is the dreaded process wherein a hiring manager or HR professional combs through a job candidate's public social media to see what kind of person they are. This can be for good or ill: Sure, they're checking to see if you'd embarrass the company, but they also might notice that you're passionate about a good cause or close with your family.

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Cybervetting comes with some unintended consequences, though — namely, that it can inject biases from the hiring team and interfere with selecting the right candidate. This doesn't simply refer to political or moral stances that don't relate to the work. For example, many surveyed hiring managers said they looked for people with "active" or "energetic" liftstyles; this may disadvantage candidates with disabilities or older jobseekers. Other character shorthands might weed out religious, ethnic, racial, and LGBTQ minorities.


Hiring teams have a lot of tools at their disposal to ensure they're hiring the most qualified candidates from the most diverse pool possible. If you've got a hand in screening job applicants, keep an eye out for all the assumptions you're bringing to the table. It could help you score the perfect hire.