The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) tells the story of a recruiter who rejected a candidate because of comments found on the dating app OkCupid. The recruiter, Sam Oliver, explains his decision in an article and describes the post: "[H]e was calling her obscene names and threatening sexual assault."
Oliver also describes his process for screening candidates online:
"Like most recruiters, I use a variety of sources when evaluating candidates — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, AngelList, github, reddit, dribbble, the list goes on. Most people’s social media is pretty benign: shared memes and jokes, vacation photos, interactions with friends and family. When looking at people’s social media, I’m mostly looking to corroborate facts and timelines on their resume — where they live, previous jobs, alma mater, etc. If they’ve put enough information out there, I might also get an accurate glimpse of their personality, which is very helpful in hiring."
"Unfortunately for him, he had used his LinkedIn head shot as one of his OKCupid profile photos, and it was very easy for me to confirm his identity via a reverse Google image search. To any seasoned recruiter, I deduced his real identity using well-known tricks of the trade; people often do not realize how much information is public and readily accessible via social media."
Both the SHRM article and Oliver explain that the rejection is perfectly legal. You may be thinking that you can't discriminate against applicants, but that applies only to certain qualities, such as race, sex, and age. On the other hand, employers have a legal responsibility to maintain a harassment- and discrimination-free environment, and an employee who writes "threatening" messages online may put an organization at risk.
Although he had no obligation to, Oliver told the applicant why he wouldn't pass his resume along to his client, which gave the applicant a chance to deactivate some accounts and remove incriminating photos.
This situation is a good lesson for students seeking jobs. Assume everything you post can be retrieved and traced back to you.
- Does the recruiter's decision surprise you? Why or why not? What are the downsides to rejecting a candidate based on social media posts?
- What advice from Chapter 12 would have helped this applicant?
- What about your own social media history may put your job search in jeopardy? Use Google and other sites to find as much information about yourself as you can.