Employers 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. However, as social media networking and recruiting grow in popularity, employers need to use social media sites with caution, especially as a means of background checking.
Are job references, provided by an employee on a social media site, an official company reference for purposes of background checking and employment? No. Should employers utilize social media job references? Maybe. It is very important for employers to remember that social media references are an informal acknowledgement that somebody, somewhere out there, likes a candidate enough to say so. But, this does not constitute an employment reference. The dilemma lies in differentiating a friend or colleague’s social media recommendations from references authorized by a company.
I recommend considering the similarity of online references with other data you’ve gathered about a potential employee. Social media references can provide interesting additions to your potential employee’s profile, but take them for what they are worth. Regard references in social media the same way you would consider personal recommendations from family and friends.