March 2016

Strong social media practices beneficial to district employers

Filtering through a prospective employee’s social media accounts can convey a great deal about a person and prevent a regrettable hire, but school district administrators must proceed with caution.

To avoid charges of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, or age, any district official involved in the hiring process should abstain from social media searches. Instead, an HR representative or other third party should handle the online reviewing of candidates and simply inform the supervisor whether or not the applicant is eligible for hire.

A report from the Pew Research Center indicates that nearly 90 percent of American adults ages 18–29 use social media platforms, and with nationwide teacher shortages, many districts are turning to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to recruit college students and recent graduates.

The recruitment of young adults via social media is a relatively new concept, but certainly has its advantages. Contacting those new to the job market through a medium they spend hours a day on, districts have an opportunity to reach these future teachers early, rather than waiting for an application to come in. This process, like the filtering of applicants, also should be carried out by employees not taking part in the interviewing and hiring process to avoid potential discrimination and retaliation issues.

Additionally, the recruitment of teachers through social media increases the chances of further diversifying staff. In the social media world, diversity abounds with 65 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of African-Americans using these outlets.

Even if school districts are not actively seeking out future teachers through social media messaging, simply posting a job vacancy through those outlets can still benefit their search. A recent Pew Research report stated that 35 percent of social media users have utilized those platforms to look for work and 21 percent have applied for a job they found through social media.

TASB has some recommendations for districts looking to hire through this route:
  • Be consistent and conduct searches for all applicants in a designated category.
  • Verify that information gathered relates to the specific individual who is the target of the search.
  • Establish which sites and search engines will be used to conduct the search.
  • Ensure only job-related information is considered and information that may lead to illegal discrimination is not considered.
  • Identify what types of information will be deemed relevant for a particular position.
  • Establish what information will be reported to decision makers and how the information will be used.
  • Designate an individual, other than those directly involved with the hiring decision, to conduct the search (HR staff, secretary).
Following these guidelines will ensure a legal and thorough experience in searching for quality teachers. More helpful resources like these can be found online in the Recruiting and Hiring section of the HR Library.