Two Perspectives: Is Cybervetting Really Effective?

March 12, 20212:53 pm2753 views
Two Perspectives: Is Cybervetting Really Effective?
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Corporations have been using cybervetting in their background process of recruitment. This practice is powerful as it can produce comprehensive empirical reports on companies, people, and organisations. However, recent studies noted that cybervetting can introduce bias and moral judgment into the hiring process. 

What is cybervetting? 

Cybervetting refers to the practice of researching potential candidates online, mainly through social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Twitch, etc. Recruiters then screen job candidates by evaluating information collected from internet searches and social media profiles as a primary method to find the right match for an open position. 

Social media roles in the recruitment process

Social media allows casual acquaintances to form, thus helping recruiters observe candidates on a peripheral basis with an ability to interact as needed. The recruitment process also becomes faster and much easier to get a more robust picture of a potential recruit. 

However, as the popularity of social media usage increases, many recruiters – and candidates – find its drawbacks. In the era of “fake news, misinformation, and disinformation”, the level of civility on social media has reached rock bottom – and unfortunately, the recruiting industry has become one of its victims. 

For example, lower barriers have made it easy for recruiters to send mass, impersonal unresearched communications to high-value, in-demand technical talents. Some of the unverified messages such as misinformation about a company’s recruitment strategy can come across as obtuse.  

Social media has also resorted to a form of social media shaming. Recruiter Ajay Chejara shared a story on his LinkedIn citing that ‘naming and shaming’ practice is now popular in recruitment practice. Candidates who ‘ghost’ future employers are being named and shamed by tagging their social media links. Consequently, senior executives of the future employer might find the tag, ask for clarification from the candidates, and might be reluctant to hire the said candidates for being irresponsible because of ghosting an employer. 

While the practice showed that candidates should not ghost employers, it is a common occurrence too where recruiters ghosted candidates for not being accepted. Jane Turkewitz wrote on her LinkedIn which went viral a few years ago, telling candidates to speak up for themselves if they are being ghosted. 

See also: 5 Tools to Boost Social Media Sourcing 

Cybervetting: Is it effective?  

Other than the aforementioned issues, cybervetting, screening and looking for candidate’s information on social media, makes recruiters more acquainted with their candidates. Detailed information of candidates’ personalities can be achieved by cybervetting. 

Employers believed that cybervetting can reduce the risks of hiring wrong talents by revealing the ‘whole person’ through applicants’ presumably uninhabited dialogues and behaviours online. Further, IACP found 70 percent of the U.S. employers dedicated not to hire candidates because of information they found online. Some examples of content available on social network profiles are that: 

  • Provocative, pornographic, or otherwise unsuitable photographs
  • Heavy drinking or illegal drug usage
  • Falsified educational and/or professional experience 
  • Release of confidential information 
  • Admission of criminal or unethical conduct 

Information attained from cybervetting might be of employers’ consideration to hire the right candidates. 

Although cybervetting helps recruiters and employers see candidates from a 360-degree angle, researchers at Oxford academic found that cybervetting might introduce bias and moral judgment into the hiring process. 

One of the things that are highlighted is that cybervetting not only judges people’s behaviour but also how that behaviour is presented. For instance, a participant noted that his organisation had no problem with employees drinking alcohol, but did not want to see any photos of alcohol in an employee’s social media feed. A big disconnect might occur here when a hiring manager sees social media as an ‘authentic’ version of who people really are. 

In addition, IACP emphasised that cybervetting might introduce legal concern. Cybervetting can facilitate unethical and irrelevant information as well as illegal discrimination during hiring. Recruiters and employers should also consider employment and privacy laws, especially in a state where privacy rights are powerful. 

Take away notes

Ghosting is common today but it does not mean recruiters or candidates should share the problems publicly by naming and tagging the ‘ghoster’. As for cybervetting, recruiters or hiring managers can learn a great deal of information, however, it should not be included in their decision to interview a candidate, or even hire a potential employee. There should also be clear guidelines or best practices for the use of cybervetting if it is going to be used at all. Employers should also be wise when using HR technology and automation when reviewing candidates as this prejudice might simply be baked into the algorithms, making them a long-term problem for both organisations and job seekers.  

Read also: How to Use Social Media as Part of Recruitment Strategy 

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