broken upBefore you @ reply to a talented potential candidate, you might want to take a step back and consider. Is it best to stick to the sourcing from traditional resumes, or at least new creative renditions like the infographic and video resume, instead of wading into the world of social? With the veritable deluge of articles espousing social media recruiting, are we ignoring the downsides?

First, let’s take a look at the reality. A recent survey by Jobvite shows that an impressive 92 percent of all employers will use social recruiting this year. But the picture isn’t entirely rosy. In a recent Careerbuilder survey, a third of respondents admitted to finding information which caused them to pass over a candidate.

With all the hype over social recruiting, there are some real downsides hiring managers and recruiters should be aware of. Here are just a few reasons why you should be careful when embracing social media recruiting:

Turning off candidates
As it turns out, using social media in the recruitment process can actually makes candidates less likely to accept job offers. At least that’s what a recent study at North Carolina State University found. In the study, when job candidates found out employers were checking up on their social media profiles, they were less likely to feel positively about accepting a job offer. This is because candidates felt this social media background check reflected poorly on the company’s treatment and trust of employees.

Legal issues
Using social media to check out potential employees can also get employers into legal hot water. The recent buzz relates to whether it’s legal to ask potential hires for their Facebook password. Most job seekers feel passionately that this practice is wrong, and even senators are joining into the fray to ask about the legality of this method. If your company is using social media in background checks, you might end up in the legal crosshairs.

Reference check tipping point
In most interview processes, there is a tipping point at which candidate ROI does not increase, but candidates become more likely to be weeded out. As the amount of interviews increases, so too does the probability someone on the team will get rid of the candidate.

This works the same way for reference checks. The more employers use social media to check into a candidate’s history, the most likely they will be to find something they don’t like.

Sometimes this is a useful piece of information which keeps out a bad hire. More often, however, it can be something completely unrelated to how the candidate would perform the given position. Now companies are losing out on potentially high-yield candidates because of one bad picture on Facebook.

How can social media be used effectively?

This isn’t to say employers shouldn’t be using social media in their hunt for great candidates. Considering 92 percent of their peers are using social media to scout talent, this new online form is ignored at a company’s peril.

Here are some ways to use social media effectively to avoid some of the traps discussed earlier:

Talent pipeline
One of the best ways to use social media in the recruitment process is by making it a talent pipeline for your company. Use LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, and Facebook fan pages to develop a well-defined talent community. Then when a position opens in your company, you’ll have a talented pipeline of candidates at the ready to choose from.

Brand building
Another great way to effectively use social media is in building an attractive employee brand for your company. You want to attract top talent, and top talent are drawn to great companies. Now the first place candidates go to research a company and find out more about the culture is online. If you use your social media tools to show off why your company is a great place to work, great candidates will flock to your organization.

You can develop a fun company video to show off culture like Twitter did with their recent hilarious low-key outing. You can come up with interesting ways for candidates to apply, like the company who recruited through the video game Diablo 3. You can even have candidates submit video resumes to show your company embraces technology and creativity. Whatever you do, make sure you’re using social media and the online space to best show off your workplace culture.

Using social media in the hiring process can be a tricky tightrope to walk. On one side, you want to use it to engage with candidates and build up your company brand. On the other side, you don’t want to alienate great potential hires. If you know the risks of using social media recruitment and avoid the pitfalls, you’ll be well on your way to reaping the hiring rewards.

What do you think are the downfalls of social media recruiting? And how can you best use social media in the hiring process? Share in the comments!

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