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Susan M. Heathfield

Manage Social Media Job References

By October 9, 2013

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What's your stand on employees writing references on social media sites? A colleague found herself in a heated discussion about whether employees writing references on social media sites such as LinkedIn violated company reference policies that prohibit employees from providing references, or official references, for former employees and colleagues. It is an interesting question given that any employer reading a reference on LinkedIn can easily determine the referring person's employer.

In my ongoing crusade to separate the personal and professional lives of employees, those of you who have read this site for any time can probably predict my answer. Employees who write references for colleagues during their personal time, and do not imply that the reference is from the company, should not be subject to disciplinary action.

But, I do recommend that you cover potential liability for your organization. Since courts are increasingly involved, ask your employees to state that the reference is personal and that they are not representing the view of the company, when they write references for work colleagues on social media sites.

As an employer, I never regard a reference on a social media site as an official company reference. I recognize that a coworker's or friend's view may differ, even radically, from the view of the employer. So, a reference is just one more piece of information in my quest to hire superior employees.

Agree? Disagree? What's your experience of references in social media such as LinkedIn? How do you use social media in your recruitment process? Do you research candidates online?

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