United States: Avoid Snap Judgments When Using Snapchat To Recruit Millennials

What do job hunting, corporate recruiting and the photo messaging app Snapchat have in common?

If you are a Millennial looking for work or a company trying to recruit one – everything.

Among those between the ages of 18 and 24, Snapchat has surpassed all other social media tools, with 10 billion views a day, compared to 8 billion for Facebook. The average Snapchat user under 25 checks the app 20 times a day. And when hunting for a job, eight in 10 hourly workers use their smart phone.

Not surprisingly, more and more companies are using Snapchat as a major part of their Millennial recruitment strategy – and not just those looking for young hourly workers.

Wall Street powerhouses Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, for example, are using geo-filtering to target graduating college students. "Snaps" show up when a user's phone has been in the area of a targeted institution.

Snapchat itself used geo-filters to try to poach Uber employees in San Francisco, asking them, "This place driving you mad?"

Some companies are incorporating features popular with Millennials such as videos and swipe technology that brings the user to an online application.

But as is the case with all social media, the advantages come with potential pitfalls.

One is unintended discrimination. For example, targeting certain geographies could serve to exclude potential applicants from certain protected classes not represented in those areas. One solution is to target geographies with diverse populations. Another is to be able to show a relationship between the recruiting strategy and the job requirements – focusing on Silicon Valley for software engineers, for example, or in Kendall Square in Massachusetts for biotech engineers.

In addition, social media platforms give employers instant access to applicants' personal characteristics, including relative age, gender and race. That could lead to a claim of discrimination if the company rejects the candidate after seeing a photo or video posting of the potential employee. One way to mitigate the risk is to designate one person as the decision-maker and another as being responsible for using social media platforms to build a diverse application pool. Or, the employer could forego viewing social media profiles until after a face-to-face meeting with the recruit.

The mere act of using Snapchat as a recruiting and hiring tool could serve to discriminate against people such as older employees who are not tech savvy.

Employers should also be cognizant that using geo-filters to attract talent from their competitors could be seen as an attempt to interfere with a competitor's business relationship, or as an inducement for employees of a competitor to violate a non-competition agreement. In jurisdictions where such agreements are enforced, employers should take caution so as to not directly target a competitor with their Snapchat recruiting efforts.

Finally, no statement should be posted that could be construed as a promise or term and condition of employment. And the approved equal opportunity and affirmative action tag lines should be included on all posts.

Social media is an always changing landscape that will require constant monitoring and a continual review of hiring procedures and practices by those companies looking to take advantage of this technological and cultural phenomenon.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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