1. Money
Susan M. Heathfield

Use Social Media Sites - Carefully

By March 27, 2014

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Both employers and employees can benefit from using social media sites, if they use them - carefully.

Professional, and even personal, online networking sites are popular places to search for employees and build qualified pools of candidates. I've written about how to recruit employees on Facebook. It's a definite option as more and more professionals maintain contact with family, friends, and colleagues on Facebook.

My first choice for professional networking and recruiting employees remains LinkedIn. LinkedIn is popular among professionals for networking, job searching, and potential employee sourcing. Your LinkedIn profile page belongs on your professional resume or cover letter.

Refer to your LinkedIn profile when networking, using an email signature, sending job application credentials, or from your personal website or blog, if you have one. HR professionals can use LinkedIn to recruit employees in the ways I describe.

Recruiting Employees on Facebook

But, back to Facebook; Facebook is becoming a popular recruiting tool, too. And, with a user base that is larger than the population of the United States, Facebook has tremendous potential to transform recruiting. A reader, an attorney, shared some of her concerns with me about employers and social media sites such as Facebook. She offered legal cautions for employers in their use of social media for recruiting and background checking potential employees.

I meant to quote her email in today's blog post, but it has disappeared in my email system. (If you are the person who sent me the informative email, I'd appreciate if you would resend it.) But, pending receipt, here are earlier concerns I shared with you about employers recruiting employees on social media sites.

As social media networking and recruiting grow in popularity, employers need to use social media sites with care, especially as a means of background checking and learning more about a prospective employee. Use the sites to confirm your choice of a superior employee, not to eliminate candidates because of personal or unprofessional information you find. The elimination could be discrimination otherwise.

Social Media Problems for Employees

Employees, too, need to use social media sites with care. If you're job searching, you don't want to eliminate yourself as a candidate because of information you posted on Facebook.

If you post a social media job reference for a colleague on LinkedIn, to use another example, your reputation, judgment, credibility, and professionalism is on the line for the person you recommended. Both prospective employers and current work colleagues will notice both who and how you recommend.

Employers may or may not use the references they find on LinkedIn. As an employee, though, take care that your reference does not appear to be an official reference from the employer. Most employers have policies about providing references for employees and former employees.

Time will tell, but I expect that the world of social media will grow more and more complicated for employers - and employees.

Image Copyright Marili Forastieri / Getty Images

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