HR Strategy

Nonprofits – Don’t Fall Victim to Social Recruiting Crimes

By

Jennifer Bertacchi

| Aug 30, 2013

Attracting skilled talent is key in order for any organization to succeed, yet across all industries exists a massive talent shortage. A majority of nonprofit organizations have limited budgets and do not have the finances for recruiting ads and agencies. Enter social media. Implementing social media into the recruiting strategy is a great fit, but being strategic and avoiding legal pitfalls is vital.

The harsh truth is although 77 percent of organizations are using social media for recruitment, a distressingly low percentage of nonprofits – 39 percent – feel it has had a positive impact on the number of applicants. Perhaps strategy (or lack thereof) is to blame?

For nonprofits, the challenge isn’t registering with every social media outlet and trying to make each page look pretty; the challenge is defining and implementing a strategy that allows those outlets to be used efficiently, all while avoiding legal pitfalls.

Nonprofit organizations should use social media sites to:

  • Increase brand awareness – market your organization in the best light possible for potential candidates, because candidates are using social media as a means to find out about your organization.
  • Source candidates – with social media you don’t have to worry about paying for premium advertising; instead you are able find groups of job seekers and even those not actively looking for employment.
  • Find the right fit – target those with specific skill sets by utilizing trade associations and networking on social outlets.
  • Screen candidates – use social media sites to rummage deeper into applicants and their backgrounds.

Without a strategy in place, these practices pose many legal risks.

Strategy to avoid crimes

Developing a social media recruitment strategy will allow you to use the tools of social media effectively, while also eliminating potential legal issues that could cost you. Below are examples of costly mistakes and how to avoid them:

1) Postpone Social Searches

There are a number of protected characteristics that cannot be used against a potential employee when researching a candidate that include, but are not limited to: religion, age, sexual orientation or disability. Nonprofits planning to use social media to screen applicants often discover information before the actual interview. As best practice, nonprofits are advised to postpone social media searches of applicants until after the initial interview.

2) Remain Consistent

If the hired employee commits a crime or an act of violence, for instance, the employer can be held liable if it is found that he or she should have known this information from researching the prospect. Avoid this by making sure you use consistency in your hiring practices with all candidates.

3) Document When Necessary

If hiring managers come across material that causes them to question an applicant’s professionalism, they should document it via screenshots in case the hiring decision must be defended.

4) Give Fair Notice

What about the Fair Credit Reporting Act? Before performing pre-employment checks, employers must receive permission from applicants. If an employment decision is made based on the information researched, the employer has an obligation to report these findings. It’s always a good idea to let applicants know that their social media presence will be reviewed for additional information.

As social media continues to develop, nonprofit organizations must make educated decisions. In order to fully utilize and maximize their recruiting potential, a relevant strategy must be implemented or you could fall victim.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

About the Author

Jennifer Bertacchi

Jennifer has worked in international marketing and public relations roles throughout her career. After earning her masters degree in marketing communications at Westminster University in London, she embarked on a career as an entrepreneur and opened her own small business. Following her stent as a business owner, Jennifer left to gain valuable experience and insight into human capital technology working at Paycom. In her position at Paycom, the St. Maarten native spearheaded the launch of the company's current website and manages Paycom's digital marketing.

See more posts by Jennifer Bertacchi