The Case: Earle Adopter, conference director for an Accreditation Council for CME–accredited provider, is in the final stages of hiring a new meetings manager. He wants to offer the job to his top candidate, Clara Clueless, CCMEP, but he received mixed messages about her during calls with her references (a previous employer and a professional colleague). He decides to check
Earle learns that, while she listed the credential on her résumé, Clara is not listed in the registry of certified CME professionals. He is shocked to discover that she recently complained vociferously about a joint sponsor and commercial supporter on a CME-related online discussion group. This made it easy to decide not to offer the position to Clara, though Earle is frustrated because he must now begin the search anew.
Be Careful What You Tweet
Are hiring managers commonly using the Internet and social media channels to vet candidates?
Parochka: Yes, recruiters, human resource professionals, and hiring managers are using Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to learn about candidates on a deeper level than ever before. Social networking sites can “red flag” undesirable characteristics such as bad-mouthing previous employers; using vulgar, obscene, threatening, intimidating, or harassing comments; or excessive use of social media at work.
Is using social media to vet potential employees ethical? Potentially discriminatory?
Overstreet: Employers should undertake all hiring activities carefully, with special attention to background and reference checks, to ensure they do not run afoul of legal issues. I believe that CME organizations should not require candidates to provide their login credentials for personal social media sites. For example, they may find that a candidate is in a protected class, thus exposing the organization to a discrimination claim if the candidate is not hired. And such actions might facilitate an environment in which employees feel empowered to violate their colleagues’ privacy.
Parochka: While I agree that employers should not ask for login information from potential employees, there has been a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information in recent months. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also may expose the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.
What should provider organizations and job candidates do to avoid such a situation?
Overstreet: Organizations should have, and enforce, social media and hiring policies. Candidates should periodically “Google” themselves to see what others can easily find about them. And they should consider what a prospective employer or collaborator might think before they post something online. If you don’t want your boss or potential employer to read it, don’t post it.
Parochka: CME directors should discuss the utilization of social media in their organization’s hiring process. Does the human resources department consider the National Labor Relations Act when evaluating how to use social media sites during the hiring process? A memorandum report issued January 24, 2012, by the National Labor Relations Board, Office of the General Counsel, emphasizes that employee rights under Section 7 of the NLRA must be at the forefront of considerations when creating a social media workplace policy or disciplining an employee for social networking activity.
Karen Overstreet, EdD, RPh, FACME, CCMEP, is executive director, instructional design and outcomes with Medscape Education, Blue Bell, Pa. Reach her at Koverstreet@medscape.net.
Jacqueline Parochka, EdD, FACME, is president and CEO, Excellence in Continuing Education Ltd., Gurnee, Ill.; and partner, PTR Educational Consultants.
Reach her at JacquelineParochka@comcast.net.
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