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There has been so much talk lately about the future of
social networking and the need for a well-drafted social media policy that I
can hardly keep up. Good thing I don't have to. Several reports - from
SHRM, Nielsen, and the NLRB Office of the General Counsel - have caught my eye.
Together, these reports tell the story of where we are and where we are going
with social media and the impact social media has had on the evolving policies
and practices of companies throughout the U.S.
In the first report highlighted in this series, SHRM published its survey findings on the use of social media
in the workplace. According to this report, only 26% of organizations report using online
search engines to screen candidates. This number has gone down over the past
several years. As you can see in the chart below, the decline is largely due to
concerns about the legal risks of discovering information about an applicant's
For example, what happens if a prospective employer finds
out an applicant belongs to a certain religion when looking him up online? Even
if the prospective employer does not consider this factor if/when it decides
not to hire the applicant (because it would be improper and illegal to do so),
he might still allege that it did. The applicant could claim
that the prospective employer decided not to hire him after learning this
information. And even if the company had a valid reason to not hire the
applicant and did not improperly exclude him based on his religion - it is
oftentimes better to not even tread near the murky world of the Internet when
deciding whether or not to hire a candidate.
Another interesting key finding by SHRM:
In 2008, 72% of organizations had no formal or
informal policies on the use of these sites for candidate
screening. Today, this figure has dropped to 56%. In addition, 29% of
organizations plan to implement a formal policy in the next 12 months, up
from 11% in 2008.
Part two on the Nielsen Report to come...
Read more articles on employment law issues
at Employment and the
Law, a blog by Ashley Kasarjian
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