The next form of workplace discrimination: the technologically challenged… you may laugh reading this sentence but it’s actually a reality. How? Aren’t computer skills necessary for certain positions? It’s not discrimination if applicants can’t perform the job requirements. Although a true statement, that’s not the issue here. Social media recruitment is.

Still laughing? The Wall Street Journal just wrote about a case involving an elderly woman who filed a discrimination complaint because recruiters scouted on social media, something she, as an elderly person, was less likely to use. The case was thrown out by the EEOC because of lack of evidence; however, lawyers are warning employers that there is a case here.

 So, how do you steer clear of the EEOC but also take advantage of social media while recruiting and hiring?

The same way you have been.  Social media is too good of a resource to just give up on. From the beginning it has been an employer’s dream and worst nightmare at the same time. With access to things like online resumes, referrals, character references (the dream) but also private details and interview no-no’s (the nightmare), it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen, right? Yes, but like most new resources you must test the water and learn from others mistakes.

Let’s get to the reason you are really reading this – tips on avoiding a run in with the EEOC. This is not the first time we have written about this subject but as I said above you must learn from others mistakes. As time goes on you can tweak the perfect process, which is what I have done in this article. Here is the best advice out there to date:

1. Always update your policies:

As time changes so must your policies. This is where many employers go wrong. They make a policy that remains the same for years. With something as ever-changing as social media, the policy you created in December may be irrelevant by May. Don’t fall short due to outdated information.

2. Figure out how social media fits into your current process:

 RJ Frasca made this point in his article, 7 Steps to Implement Social Media Screening. He was talking about a screening program but it works here as well. Recruiting and hiring is a process, before using social media you need to figure where social media belongs and what it will add you your current program.

3. Don’t rely on social media alone:

It should be one part of a comprehensive program. Recruiting (like background screening) should be made up of many components. Online, job boards, networking, job fairs and the list goes on and on. Don’t limit your audience; find a variety of tactics that work for you. You will reach a wider applicant pool this way and avoid discrimination claims like the one above.

4. Research state laws:

Social media has been around long enough that there are already laws dictating employer behavior. Before using social media start with research. Look up your state legislation – laws that are already passed and those in question. This will be a great guide for using social media.

5. Stay educated:

Finally, set up alerts for social media and stay updated on the latest news. That way when the EEOC makes a move you will know and be able to act accordingly

Don’t write off a good thing because it may land you in hot water, instead resist temptation and use it wisely. Is social media a part of your recruiting efforts? We would like to hear more about why or why not in the comments below.

For other best practices subscribe to our blog here, and download our free 23 page guide to Applicant Background Screening in 2014.

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