SmartRecruiters Blog

The 5 Worst Social Media Hiring Mistakes

Social media provides an amazing way to engage an active as well as passive job seeker community online and in real time.  It also presents challenges for employers as well as job seekers, which sometimes leads to mistakes.  Hiring mistakes happen in that hiring managers sometimes make an offer or bring on board a job seeker for the wrong reasons, but when that mistake is publicly plastered on the internet, really bad things can happen.

    • Using Social Media as a Background Check. Sometimes the curiosity is just too great or a situation has taken place surrounding social media where the hiring manager will never let that happen again.  Using social media as a form of hiring background check opens the employer up too many risks including employment discrimination or wrongfully identifying your candidate on the Internet.
  • Blocking Social Media at Work.  As social media grows in importance, so does your employee’s use of social media as their primary form of contact with the outside world.  My mom follows me and my sister’s family happenings via Facebook, and today I connected with my friend, Carrie who recently moved to Dallas. Man, I sure miss her.  Forty percent of generation Y workers rate social media access above receiving a higher salary.  These workers will decline (or accept) job offers based on employee access to social media at work.  Be prepared to answer questions about your company’s social media policy throughout the hiring and interview process.
  • Only Relying on Social Media.  Depending on your social media recruiting strategy, these online tools can be extremely cost effective.  The problem is that these mediums still only reach a limited number of job seekers many who still rely on more traditional and established methods.  Using only social media in your recruiting efforts can open you up to other employment law and discrimination problems as well.  If you are only recruiting on Twitter, Quantcast cites the demographics as 67% Caucasian, 17% African American, 12% Hispanic, and 3% Asian.  In effect, you are purposefully limiting your recruiting pool and are potentially guilty of adverse action.
  • Not Responding to Job Seekers on Social Media.  If your company chooses to create a social media presence for recruiting and hiring, it’s important to provide support as needed.  Job seekers will use TwitterFacebook, and other platforms to engage and ask questions.  You need to follow up and respond in a timely manner, meaning 24 to 48 hours.
  • Deleting Negative Threads and Conversation.  With social media comes the good as well as the bad.  Companies who remove negative comments and content from visitors on social media pages like Facebook at looked upon unfavorably.  Social media is like the corporate water cooler, and by removing the content online you are fueling the conversation.  Removing content – instead of providing an update or thanking the visitor for their insights – damages your credibility.


While in all likelihood you can’t avoid all this potential social media pitfalls, you can be prepared.  Arm yourself with answers and prepare for situations that arise on social media including negative postings and questions about your social media use, and then, you are 5 steps closer to maneuvering pitfalls and other potentially bad hiring and recruiting situations when it comes to social media.


Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. When she talks, people listen.  Also, connect with her on Pinterest @blogging4jobs.  Photo Credit Intuic.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a HR consultant, new media strategist, and author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Jessica is the host of Job Search Secrets, an internet television show for job seekers.