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Beware Compliance Pitfalls When Recruiting on Social Media Sites

Compliance Week (02/01/12) Reese Darragh

Using social media tools to recruit can be fraught with compliance issues. For example, companies that improperly use information from applicants’ online profiles to prescreen them may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or other federal and state laws, attorneys say.

Social media sites often contain information such as an applicant’s age or religious beliefs and other sensitive data. Attorney Susan Gross Sholinsky says companies “should be careful not to make decisions based on information obtained via social media when they know it is unlawful to ask the question that would elicit the information during an interview.” Companies also need to be careful that they recruit using multiple approaches and not just social media. Using just social media risks bias against some minorities who are under-represented on professional social-media sites, Sholinsky says.

To minimize legal risks, companies must adopt consistent recruitment practices. They may also want to consider separating the social media search function from the hiring function.